If there has been one unifying factor in k.d. lang's path to stardom, it's been her willingness to take risks, whether by expanding the boundaries (momentarily, anyway) of what could be played on country radio, coming out of the closet, or taking a radical stylistic left turn with the release of her smoothly engaging 1992 pop record Ingenue. The Canadian singer's follow-up to that album, 1995's All You Can Eat, was even better, mixing crowd-pleasing pop with humor and a unique personality. But since then, lang's work has seemed oddly rudderless, both on the 1997 throwaway Drag—a covers-laden concept album about smoking, of all things—and the instantly forgettable new Invincible Summer. The latter's few remotely experimental moments lie in the bland bits of exotica that adorn "Love's Great Ocean," "Curiosity," and the impossibly polished "Summerfling," but those just seem like an afterthought, an extra coat of gloss for comfort's sake. The rest of Invincible Summer fits neatly and safely into the well-traveled world of capable but soulless adult-contemporary love songs. It's never terrible—"What Better Said," for example, is a fine ballad—but it's consistently tepid, devoid of personality, and characteristic of a considerable talent on auto-pilot. She and Sting should ready their Grammy acceptance speeches for 2001.

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