Life on a String

Rather than simply release an album version of her recent multimedia presentation Songs and

Rather than simply release an album version of her recent multimedia presentation Songs and

Stories of Moby Dick, Laurie Anderson has included some songs that derive from it—such as the moody "One Beautiful Evening"—to go along with others that are wholly original for this, her first album of new music since 1994's Bright Red. The rhythmic delight "The Island Where I Come From" and haunting lead track "One White Whale" are apt examples of the album's elemental production aesthetic. Likewise, "Pieces and Parts" pares the accompaniment down to a delicate string trio. As this and the title track suggest, the album is string-heavy, with Anderson playing violin—something she hasn't done on disc since 1982's Big Science. Contributions from husband Lou Reed, Bill Frisell, Dr. John, and Van Dyke Parks enchant in their intended blend of beauty and sadness.—JB