Acantha Lang – Beautiful Dreams
Acantha Lang’s journey took her from the Crescent City of New Orleans to London, where she crafted a career that allows her to thrive as an unabashed soul singer. She’s earned raves on both sides of the Atlantic along the way for her work as a soloist and a songwriter for other artists. Lang’s early singles, which include “He Said, She Said” and “Lois Lang” (an homage to her mother), garnered awards and recognition from SoulTracks, and those two tunes can be heard on Lang’s first full length project, Beautiful Dreams.
The songs that Lang released over the past two years offered a glimpse into her musical sensibilities, as well as her worldview. Artistically, Lang is firmly rooted in the kind of hard driving, honest and sweat soaked, blues-based soul music that has historically come out of places such as New Orleans and Memphis. Thematically, Lang is interested in telling the stories of one who knows that love and loss are simply different sides of the same coin. She wants to encourage people to stand tall against forces – internal and external – that are often arrayed against them. That is what Lang expresses on that title track, an eyes wide open romp through the place where soul music intersects with the music and motions of the Black church. In that song, Lang uses her vocals, which move from raspy to angelic, to encourage people to keep their eyes on the beautiful things.
The soulful ballad “Eventually” finds Lang describing her quest to find the kind of love that she and all people deserve. The song begins with Lang accompanied by a guitar as she sings about how the search for love and meaning can leave a person empty when it they should be full. Bass and organ then join as Lang expresses the hope that she will find what she is looking for. “Whatever Happened to Our Love” has an infectious melody with the bass and horns, as usual, making people move. Lang sings the song from the standpoint of a woman who knows what a healthy relationship looks like, knows she and her lover are it a rut, and wonders what can be done to relight the spark.
The brassy “Come Back Home” stands as one of the highlights of many this record’s high points. It is a mid-tempo jam that finds a bouncy bass line in a conversation with the horn section as Lang tells the story of missing someone (in this case, her father) whom she has not seen in a while, and everything ceases to be important except seeing him again. She throws herself fully into the lyrics and anyone who has missed someone can identify with emotions conveyed in her performance. The relaxing tempo set by the horns, blues-soaked guitar and bass set the conversational tone that Lang adopts on “Carry The Weight.” On this song, Lang talks to a friend who is overwhelmed by the burdens of life and encourages them to share the load. “Ride This Train” is the perfect song for someone who traveled halfway across the world to live life on her terms.
Beautiful Dreams is funky and optimistic project brought to us by someone who knows there will be twists and turns in life — and is ready to experience it all. Highly Recommended.
By Howard Dukes