On her first two albums, k.d. lang took a witty and playful approach to the sounds and traditions of classic country music, and while it was obvious she truly loved the music, she also seemed to be having a bit of fun at its expense at the same time. But in 1988, lang proved beyond a doubt that she was serious about country (as well as her own talent) with Shadowland, an homage to the polished countrypolitan sounds of the 1950s and ’60s that was produced by Owen Bradley, the iconic Nashville producer who was behind the controls for many of Patsy Cline’s most memorable recordings. lang herself sought out Bradley to work on the album, and luring him out of retirement proved to be a masterstroke; rather than try to re-create the lush textures and deep atmosphere of Bradley’s sides for Cline or Brenda Lee herself, lang went to the source, and Bradley gave her studio settings that referenced his work during Nashville’s golden era while adding an ever-so-slight contemporary sheen. Bradley also brought aboard an all-star crew of legendary Nashville studio hands and invited Loretta Lynn, Brenda Lee, and Kitty Wells to sing with lang on the closing “Honky Tonk Angels’ Medley.” In the hands of many artists, this sort of project might have been an exercise in misplaced, nostalgic fandom, but on Shadowland, lang taps into the sound and style of her most vital musical influences while at the same time putting her stamp on the music — this isn’t k.d. lang trying to be Patsy Cline, but rather lang demonstrating what she learned from Cline and where those lessons took her. lang’s lush, expressive voice has rarely sounded better or more emotionally powerful than it does on Shadowland, and it presents her meeting the cream of Nashville’s greatest era not as a wide-eyed acolyte, but as a gifted artist collaborating on equal terms. It’s a magnificent achievement.