Penny Lang Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky

Penny Lang has crafted her finest record in a career that has, itself, ebbed and flowed over its 40-plus-year span. Some seven years in the incubator, Lang has returned from ill health with a rejuvenated appreciation for life and the world around her. S&S&S&S is a true epiphany. This largely unsung, Canadian folk/rock legend is deserving of world attention with this sophisticated production, relishing in the understated talents of fellow Montrealers Kate McGarrigle, Michael Jerome Browne, Gaston Bernard and son, Jason. Produced with Laurie Anderson collaborator, Roma Baran and percussionist Vivian Stoll, S&S&S&S wraps Lang in a warm, luxurious and highly intimate space as she uses every breath and beat of her heart to define her universe with brushstrokes that only come with wisdom and maturity. Her honey-on-burled-oak of a voice blends with deft and varied arrangements that accentuate, but never overpower the song. From the neo-lullaby of the opener, "Sudden Waves,” gently accompanied by vibraphone, lap steel and accordion, to the truly climactic Rose Vaughan-penned title track — easily a hauntingly worthy Canadian anthem-to-be. Lang’s own "Diamonds on the Water” continues the theme as it celebrates life while "Prairie Sky” is as close to an aural masterpiece as an artist could paint. This is a real accomplishment. (Borealis)