Life on a String

Life on a String

by Laurie Anderson
     
 

Laurie Anderson's voice is so perfectly calibrated and conversational that, whether she's singing or speaking, she sounds like a familiar old friend, ringing you up for a late-night phone chat, telling stories, and sharing anecdotes and insights. It's been a long time since we've heard from her: Life on a String is Anderson's first album of new musical pieces…  See more details below

Overview

Laurie Anderson's voice is so perfectly calibrated and conversational that, whether she's singing or speaking, she sounds like a familiar old friend, ringing you up for a late-night phone chat, telling stories, and sharing anecdotes and insights. It's been a long time since we've heard from her: Life on a String is Anderson's first album of new musical pieces since 1994's Bright Red. It's an eerie, ghostly work -- and a surprisingly personal one. A few songs -- the bouncy, horn-driven "The Island Where I Come From," the dark, electronica-based "My Compensation" -- use tricky, syncopated rhythms, but most of Life on a String relies on seductive, wavelike music to support Anderson's provocative, profound narratives (several of which come from her most recent theater piece, Songs and Stories of Moby Dick). Co-producer Hal Willner helped to enlist a raft of guests, including Dr. John, Bill Frisell, Mitchell Froom, Lou Reed, and Van Dyke Parks (whose eccentric string arrangement for "Dark Angel" is typically brilliant), for tasteful, restrained accompaniment, and for the first time since Big Science Anderson plays violin on an album. But Life on a String is mainly a vehicle for Anderson's captivating voice. She's seductive and soothing, even when telling disquieting stories. In "Slip Away," Anderson describes standing bedside as her father dies, and the mix of love and loss make it one of her most personal songs and one of her best. Twenty years after her debut hit single "O Superman," Laurie Anderson still has stories worth hearing.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stewart Mason
2001's Life on a String is a peculiar entry in Laurie Anderson's career, in that elements of it echo her previous work without sounding much like anything she's done before. In particular, the album has ties both to 1982's Big Science (like that album, Life on a String largely consists of songs taken from a much larger work, her musical theater piece Moby Dick) and 1989's Strange Angels (it returns to the more musical side of her style, which had been largely abandoned on her two '90s releases). The sound is a new and intriguing development for Anderson; an accomplished violin player who previously had only used the instrument pretty much as a prop, Anderson fills all of these songs with front-and-center string sections that provide an entirely different texture for her usual meandering melodies. "Slip Away" is a moving song about the death of her father that's probably the most direct and emotional song Anderson has ever written. It's the clear high point of Life on a String.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/21/2001
Label:
Nonesuch
UPC:
0075597953923
catalogNumber:
79539

Related Subjects

Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Laurie Anderson   Primary Artist,Percussion,Violin,Gong,Keyboards,Vocals
Van Dyke Parks   Conductor,Keyboards
Lou Reed   Guitar
Joey Baron   Percussion,Drums
Mino Cinelu   Percussion
Greg Cohen   Acoustic Bass
Bill Frisell   Guitar
Danny Frankel   Percussion,Hand Clapping
Erik Friedlander   Cello
Mitchell Froom   Keyboards,Mellotron,Wurlitzer,Claviola
Peter Scherer   Keyboards
Chris Speed   Saxophone
Skúli Sverrisson   Bass,Guitar,Keyboards,Sounds
Hal Willner   Turntables,Sampling
Cuong Vu   Trumpet
Vinicius Cantuaria   Percussion
Eyvind Kang   Violin
Ben Rubin   Bells

Technical Credits

Laurie Anderson   Producer,Engineer
Van Dyke Parks   String Arrangements
David Torn   Loop
David Bither   Executive Producer
Martin Brumbach   Engineer,Percussion Arrangement
Josiah Gluck   Engineer
Skúli Sverrisson   Director,Percussion Programming
Hal Willner   Producer
Dante de Sole   Engineer
Bob Brockmann   Engineer

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