Homeland, created in 2010, is Laurie Anderson's 8th album. The picture on the cover of the album is of her alter-ego, Fenway Bergamot, previously called "the voice of authority," who has shifted to a role of melancholy, thought processes and conscious streams in her newer album. Homeland consists of twelve tracks. Anderson commonly uses voice filters to deepen her voice, along with violin, vocal harmonies, and spoken word. Much of the music uses a minimalistic approach to create a more intense atmosphere; and the album maintains a feeling of uncanny mixed with synthetics, while still maintaining an ultra-realistic commentary in the lyrics. Anderson's lyrics seem to have meaning in each word. She speaks of modern society and the government; most of the songs seem to have a dark commentary.
Homeland treads in material of perceived problems in American society. In one track, Only an Expert, Anderson discusses the destructive cycle of how authorities maintain power by creating problems which only they can fix. Similarly, in Another Day in America, while using a deep voice filter to speak as her alter-go, Fenway Bergamot, the corruption and ignorance of society's ruination are focused on. The name of the album, Homeland, came from the idea that very few people actually say "my homeland," but the word often gets paired with the word "security," even though security is often a bureaucratic concept used to maintain control over a society, according to Anderson (Hermes, Will (June 25, 2010)).
"Ah, America. We saw it. We tipped it over, and then, we sold it. These are the things I whisper softly to my dolls. Those heartless little thugs dressed in calico kilts and jaunty hats and their perpetual white toothy smiles," Another Day in America. Laurie Anderson, Homeland (2010).
Anderson has said that the inspiration for Homeland stemmed from interacting with her translator while working on a project in Japan. She specifically explains a time when trying to explain the feeling of leaving somewhere with the sense that something has been forgotten, and the translator replied asking "What did you lose?" and "Where did you lose it?" Because a word can have so many meanings, everything needed to be said very specifically and in a literal sense. Anderson continues her story, "And I thought: 'I'm being psychoanalysed by the translator,' but I realised it was when we invaded Iraq and that what I had lost was my country. Left alone, I never would have put it that way," (Anderson, Laurie (July 5, 2010). The Guardian).
"Sociology of language notwithstanding, “Homeland” may be the most frankly emotional record Ms. Anderson has ever made. The work is dedicated to her parents, and the mood veers between degrees of darkness. The lead track, “Transitory Life,” begins with a yarn spinner’s sly indictment — “It’s a good time for bankers, and winners, and sailors” — then segues into a more intimate voice, describing the funeral of a grandmother who “lies there in her shiny black coffin looks just like a piano.” The music is shaped by a stark, mournful viola line played by Eyvind Kang, and a pair of igils — horse-head fiddles — played by members of Chirgilchin, a Tuvan traditional group Ms. Anderson has performed with. “The Lake” and “The Beginning of Memory” are slowly unfolding songs that each refer to the death of a father," Hermes, Will (June 25, 2010). The New York Times. Electronic Expressions in the Service of the Soul.
Homeland maintains cultural importance due to the addressing of ignorance of the baggage behind many aspects of American culture and media. Anderson takes a voice that can seem sarcastically comical at times. She is able to bring the listener into the world of Homeland by presenting it in a way that is ultra-personal for many listeners by talking especially of the consumeristic tendencies of Americans. However, rather than a call-to-action encouraging people to take action against issues in American society, Homeland takes the route of more of a dark journey through society. A few songs are even about loss, specifically the death of a father. So, behind all of the consumerism, bureaucracy, the chilling reality of authority, power, and society, the album conserves a profound sense of human essence and raw emotion.
In Anderson's most recent work, similar themes of death and loss have developed into a film called Heart of a Dog, released in 2015. The album she created for it has a very similar sound for some songs, while others are much more bleak. Compared to Homeland, the songs in Heart of a Dog focus much more on loss and coping, and also seem less satirical and more mature in presentation. It is a strikingly unique personal exploration of death, whereas Homeland encompasses many more aspects of life and society.
Although it has a much more cheerful tune and style, Kilo Kish's debut album Reflections in Real Time, released in February of 2016, has a style that is very similar to Anderson's. Kilo Kish, who is more than 30 years younger than Anderson, uses spoken word in much of the same way as Anderson, especially in the form of conscious streams of dialogue. The style of Reflections in Real Time is very similar to what the title implies: reactions to life and the world around oneself, in trails of words and thoughts. Compared to Homeland, it is much more abstract and playful, and lacks much of the political weight that Homeland has.
Laurie Anderson performed Only an Expert from Homeland on the Late Show with David Letterman on July 15, 2010.
• Henderson, Erin (July 22, 2010). Slant Magazine. Laurie Anderson Homeland
• Howe, Brian (June 21, 2010) Pitchfork. Laurie Anderson Homeland
• Kohn, Daniel (September 10, 2010). Consequence of Sound. Laurie Anderson – Homeland
• Gregory, Hannah (July 16, 2010). The Quietus. Laurie Anderson
Heart of a Dog
• Dargis, Manohla (October 20, 2015). The New York Times. Review: 'Heart of a Dog,' Laurie Anderson's Meditation on Loss
• Kish, Kilo (December 2, 2015). The Creators Project. Kilo Kish Reveals the Most Embarrassing Moments on Her New Album