"America is a good place for stories," Laurie Anderson told London's The Guardian right before she brought Homeland, her self-described "concert poem," to English stages. Homeland contains some of Anderson's most incisive work -- darkly humorous, starkly emotional, and, at times, movingly tender. Her stories are once again about these United States of America, the sprawling subject that first brought her acclaim more than 25 years ago with her eight-hour Reagan-era phantasmagoria, United States, Parts I - IV.
Homeland is a distilled, up-to-the-minute portrait of our agitated nation, its politics, its economics, its delusions, and its dreams. Her tone is less outraged than elegiac, mourning for lives lost, ideals misplaced. The music is dramatically stripped down to a handful of players, centered around Anderson's haunting violin and voice, frequent Bill Frisell band-mate Eyvind Kang's viola, and Peter Scherer's keyboards. The arrangements are embellished with such touches as the siren-like vocals of Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons), thumping keyboards from Keiran Hebden (of Four Tet), and, on the brilliant, wickedly funny "Only An Expert," a gnarly guitar turn from Anderson's husband and co-producer Lou Reed.
Homeland, long awaited in recorded form, has evolved over more than two years of touring as Anderson developed the songs in front of concertgoers around the world, from downtown clubs in Manhattan to an amphitheatre in Athens, Greece. In Artforum, Anderson summarized the songs as "one-third politics, one-third pure music, and one-third strange dreams." The work was shaped more by humanity than by technology; Anderson built an intimate rapport with her audience during a show that featured a shifting set-list of new material and relied on words and music far more than visual and theatrical effects. That intimacy is just as palpable in the songs that evolved to make up her new album. The Guardian said Homeland "represents some of the most purely beautiful music she has ever made." In the States, Daily Variety declared, "The music that accompanies the vignettes and songs is some of the loveliest that Anderson has ever written... Like the narratives it accompanies, the sound's grave but not without wit; measured and dispassionate, but not without heart."
On the road, Homeland drew acclaim and attracted controversy for its political content. But Anderson is not merely criticizing or complaining; on tracks like the stunning 11-minute album centerpiece, "Another Day In America," Anderson is really singing for our survival, retelling the stories of our present state in the most forthright material of her career. It can be harrowing but it can be hopeful, and it is as riveting as anything Anderson has produced since the groundbreaking Big Science in 1982. As Variety concluded, "Homeland reinforces Anderson's place as the best interpreter of our troubled times." From the Label