With more than 30 studio albums among them, Neko Case, Laura Veirs and k.d. lang understand how to build a song, be it a lang-crafted torch and twang ballad, a Case-built Brill-building bruiser or a Veirs-ian folk-pop shape-shifter.
The three artists have united for a new project, simply titled case/lang/veirs, in which the musicians play songs they wrote together.
This week, they released the first of them. It's called "Atomic Number," and if the song's any sort of portent, fans are right to mark the June 17 release date on their calendars.
Like the other 13 tracks on "case/lang/veirs," "Atomic Number" came as the result of a seemingly offhand email from lang to the two a few years ago. It read, "I think we should make a record together." Eventually they did, and Los Angeles label Anti- signed on to release it.
And why wouldn't they? With its cool rhythm and intermingling voices, "Atomic Number" features three assured creators whose work tackles hard emotion from any number of angles.
The Portland, Ore.-based Veirs started in a punk band but quickly expanded her aesthetic to embrace song craft, musicianly collaboration and keenly observed lyricism. lang's platinum-selling, Grammy-winning work has mined the depths of American music. With an instantly recognizable voice, she's explored the intersection of country, folk, the American songbook and balladry, all the while serving as a symbol of artistic independence. And Case's best songs, both solo and as a member of the New Pornographers, place her among the top-tier songwriters of her generation.
According to an advance notice from the label, their collaboration explores topics including the life of folksinger Judee Sill, a secret born in Silver Lake, a drive down Interstate 5 and a "super moon."
After the record comes out, the trio will embark on a summer tour that kicks off in San Diego on June 22 and lands at the Greek Theatre on June 23. They'll then move up the coast before heading east for shows in Colorado, Nevada and the Eastern Seaboard.