By Jack Sharkey, March 16, 2018


Front to Back Album Review: Laurie Anderson - Landfall

  • Released: February 16, 2018
  • Label: Nonesuch Records
  • Producer: Laurie Anderson


3.5 Play Buttons

3.5 out of Five Play Buttons


Conventional wisdom has it that the album is dead. Certainly sales figures back that assertion up. Maybe the album is dead because our listening habits have changed, or maybe the album is dead because no one is really putting out albums worthy of an hour of our time all in one sitting. But the album is still a viable work of art – when it’s done right. Landfall is an album worthy of your time.


Landfall is not a revisiting a grief but rather a wander through the ruminations that occur in the days, months and years after the event that caused the grief. In the case of Landfall, there were two events that brought the grief to Anderson.

Laurie Anderson - Kronos Quartet


In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and the death of her husband, iconic punk/glam/avant-gardist Lou Reed almost a year to the day later, Anderson has offered up the chilling Landfall. Although part of a trilogy, she has teamed up with Kronos Quartet for a stark musical meditation that stands on its own as a separate story, at once devoid of common pop and classical structures and totally accessible and listenable. A musical journey through loss, pain and devastation, Landfall is also quite funny and lighthearted at times. It is in fact, human, and that’s what makes it so interesting and enjoyable to listen to.


This album is a perfect reminder that without lyrics, music alone can tell a story. All of the heavy lifting and story-telling is done by Anderson's violin accompanied by the Kronos Quartet. The music does a wonderful job of relaying the emotions swirling in Anderson’s head with a smattering of spoken narration from Anderson serving to relay random thoughts and concepts.


Landfall sounds magnificent. The mix of strings and synthesizers makes this a most interesting album to listen to for those of you who just like to listen to their music and gear. The drone of the synths that form the underlying rhythm at times will give your subwoofer an excellent work-out but it never becomes overwhelming or out of place. The listener who loves musical journeys and soundscapes for the sheer joy of the art won’t be disappointed either.


There are no particular tracks that I’ll recommend separate from the rest of the album as this is an album meant to be taken in all at once. This is not a pop album, nor is it a classical album – it’s a Laurie Anderson album and if you’ve been bored with the same old same old, step outside of your comfort zone and give Landfall a listen – you just might be surprised.