Penny Lang
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Penny Lang

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


''Penny Lang calls her album Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky, but not because she has seemingly been around as long as the elements themselves. No, the title reflects the veteran folk singer’s move from Montreal to British Columbia, where she has found solace and natural comfort….Her voice is perfectly imperfect, with a husk and slight slur to it. And even though most of the songs were not written by Lang, she is fit well, the material clothing her as vulnerable and earthy.''

Brad Wheeler, The Globe & Mail - The Globe & Mail, Toronto


This may sound weird, but in order to grasp the essence of Montreal’s Grande Dame of folk-blues’ new album, one should first listen to another of her records: the extraordinary Gather Honey, with songs recorded by Penny between 1963 and 1978: with its magnificently simple arrangements and Penny’s powerful, organic voice…Only then can one appreciate to which point Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky is a delicate hommage to the 63 year old singer by the reputed producer Roma Baran, (who herself started out with Penny in 1964)…The incredibly rich arrangements that call upon a procession of instruments and friends allow Ms. Lang to sing her life story as if for you alone. It’s beautiful and serene, at times different from anything she’s done til now; yet fits perfectly with her oeuvre. In short, to paraphrase French songwriter Michel Berger on the late Ella Fitzgerald, Penny Lang too, has “soul matter: a special voice/a special joy/this gift from above/renders her beautiful”.

Marie Christine Blais,
LaPresse, Montreal splendidly original arrangements (Translation) - Marie Christine Blais - LaPresse Montreal


“the finest album in her illustrious career. …filmmaker and performance art producer Roma Baran has created a stunning aural landscape for some truly fine songs. Her work with Laurie Anderson might have predicted otherwise but she has used a folk instrument palette to great effect….”Careless Love” is simply magnificent. This blues-drenched lesson of the price of careless love (paid many years later) makes most other versions redundant.”

Jon Valentyn, Maple Blues Magazine, Toronto - Maple Blues Magazine


A recent recipient of a lifetime achievement award from Folquébec, over 40 odd years, six records and countless nationwide tours she has become nothing short of a national treasure in the world of Canadian folk. … Lang worked with (Roma) Baran last year for the first time in over three decades. The result is Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky, a spare and sublime collection of late-night, back-porch roots lullabies, and Lang’s first record in over seven years. Produced with delicate precision by Baran (alongside New York percussionist Viv Stoll), the 13 plaintive tracks, which roam from tranquil folk and rustic country blues to Parisian jazz and Celtic ballads with fluid grace, reveal a more intimate, inviting side to Lang’s voice, an expressive shade she’s only recently discovered.

Steve Baylin, Ottawa Express - Ottawa Express


The other Lang

Folk sweetheart Penny Lang comes to town for the local launch of her CD Stone And Sand And Sea And Sky. Her first studio album in seven years, produced by Roma Baran and featuring Kate McGarrigle, caps a remarkable four-decade career for this 63-year-old lesbian from Montreal — one of Canada’s leading roots-based artists.

Xtra Toronto - Xtra Toronto


Discography

Stone+Sand+Sea+Sky
Borealis Records / Koch Distribution / May 2006
The eighth and newest recording from Canadian folk icon Penny Lang, entitled Stone & Sand & Sea & Sky, and produced with much-appreciated assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts and SODEC. Produced by Grammy and Oscar-nominated producer Roma Baran and Grammy-nominated engineer Vivian Stoll, it is Penny’s second release for Borealis. It is Penny’s first studio recording since 1999 and features accompaniment by Roma Baran, Vivian Stoll, Kate McGarrigle, Ken Pearson, Michael Jerome Browne, Dave Clarke, Gaston Bernard, Rachelle Garniez and Penny’s son Jason Lang, among others… The recording features 13 songs from Penny’s repertoire, plus gems from contemporary songwriters and a song written especially for her. Throughout, Penny delivers stunning performances, squeezing every emotional nuance out of a collection that will surely prove to be timeless. Click on the album cover to learn more and listen to audio samples.

Gather Honey
Borealis Records / Koch Distribution / November 2001
JUNO nominated 2002 in the category Best Roots &
Traditional Album/Solo. A labor of love, this CD started out as something entirely different; it was supposed to be an anthology of the recordings that Penny made in the nineties. Then Bill Garrett of Borealis Records, an old Montréal folkie himself, came up with a tape of the Ottawa Opus Coffee House concert. We began hearing about other recordings and a treasure hunt ensued. Penny Lang never recorded in those days, but plenty of folks recorded Penny Lang. Gospel, blues, country, traditional songs, real folk songs, contemporary Canadian songs that give a flavor of the Montréal scene during that period, songs by American writers who were important to Penny, and a couple of Penny’s early originals.

Somebody Else
SheWolf / Festival Distribution / October 1999
Produced by David Baxter, with Jason Lang, Michelle Josef, Bazil Donovan, David Baxter,Lori Yates, Linda Feijo.
“Powerful, soulful voice and rootsy music with apparent traces of Memphis (and occasionally Detroit) soul, Louisiana gumbo music. Bo Diddley unplugged, middle period Dylan, and a host of other influences… a very listenable album…” Folk on Tap, UK “A take on Dylan’s love Minus Zero No Limit’ doesn’t stand out in any way in a collection of self-penned songs, which says it all”. Record Buyer, UK “..and secondly the quite brilliant Penny Lang. Part folk-keen, part blues-growl, her voice is an extraordinarily charismatic instrument- album of the month by a country mile.” Joe Cushley, MOJO Filter, UK

Penny & Friends Live
SheWolf / Festival Distribution / November 1998 Producers: Heidi Fleming, Penny Lang and Simon Pressey. With Jason Lang, Michael Browne, Bill Gossage, Bob Stagg, Ken & Chris Whiteley, Jody Golick, Martin Boodman, Linda Morisson, Kim Richardson, Michael Lessard, Michael Ball, Pam Hodges and John McColgan. “She draws strength and power from the songs, the musicians, and the audience to turn in inspired, and often inspiring performances… soaring…” Sing Out! Magazine “…Penny Lang is not only a great singer-songwriter but also a superb performer…a CD to enjoy over and over again”. Int’l Dr. Nina Simone Society, Antwerp, Belgium

Carry On Children
SheWolf / Festival Distribution / May 1999
Producer: Ken Whiteley. With special guests: Moxy Früvous, Colin Linden, Quartette, Ken and Chris Whiteley, Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer, Garnet Rogers and others. ”Emotional power rarely equalled… she is able to generate more emotion with her voice than probably 90 per cent of practising musician… Carry On Children enhances one’s respect of her musical and songwriting skill.” Lynn Saxberg, Ottawa Citizen, August 1996 ”With this follow-up (to her gem-filled Ain’t Life Sweet) Lang is sure to cement her reputation as a compassionate chronicler of the human condition.” Mike Regenstrief, Sing Out! February 1997. “Lang is a wonderful blues performer, a stellar cast of Canada’s finest bring out a casual elegance in her work.” Paul-Émile Comeau, Dirty Linen, July 1997 ”Featuring country, gospel and blues influences, this rare anthology of ballads and hymns flows with riveting acoustic and electric harmonies” Raniero De Martiis, JAM, Milano, Italy, March 1997 (tr) “An intimate but powerful sound…stories veiled in ironic sweetness of her…path to success…highly recommended.” Mauro Eufrosini, Soul’n Jazz Plus, Italy, Winter 1997 (tr) ”I dream of seeing, listening to, and of hearing the sweet vibrations and musicality of Penny Lang some warm evening…her music reminds me of …Paul Simon, with its choruses and heartfelt rhythms.” Pierre Jobin, Les Amis du Blues, Québec, October 1997 (tr) ”A fresh, bluesy feel, with jazzier elements… uncompromising” Delta Snake online ‘zine, Women in Blues, Fall 1997 ”(she) posesses a greatness of spirit, which…(while she is) so clearly identified with the 60s, her music is well anchored in the present…” Claude Côté, Pa

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

“Penny really is remarkable. Absolutely distinctive. Listen to that voice for two seconds and you think, ‘That’s Penny Lang.’” Roma Baran, co-producer of Penny’s latest release, Stone+Sand+Sea+Sky.

Penny Lang is one of the few singers today that evokes thundering accolades that go far beyond the customary comments made about artists. As fellow Montréal singer-songwriter Jesse Winchester once remarked, “I first heard Penny sing at the Montreal Folk Workshop..I heard passion, I heard vulnerability, and I heard complete candor about pretty much everything.”

Lang’s eighth album, Stone + Sand + Sea + Sky, on Borealis Records caps a remarkable four decade career during which this delightful 63-year old singer-guitarist has evolved from being a coffeehouse draw in her Montreal hometown to being one of Canada’s leading roots-based artists. Throughout her career, the fiercely unconventional Lang has played for the fishermen in Newfoundland; the farmers in Alberta; and played to audiences in coffeehouses and festivals throughout North America. She has also toured Australia, Italy, Denmark, France and the United Kingdom. Lang is also the subject of a 1999 documentary “Stand Up: On High Ground with Penny Lang” by Jocelyne Clarke. In 2003, she received the first Prix Folqui awarded by Folquébec.