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Homeland contains some of Anderson's most incisive work, -- darkly humorous, starkly emotional, and, at times, movingly tender. Her stories are once again about these United States of America, the sprawling subject that first brought her acclaim more than 25 years ago with her eight-hour Reagan era phantasmagoria, United States, Parts I - IV. Homeland is a distilled, up-to-the-minute portrait of our agitated nation, its politics, its economics, its delusions and its dreams. Her tone is less outraged than elegiac, mourning for lives lost, ideals misplaced. The music is dramatically stripped down to a handful of players, centered around Anderson's haunting violin and voice, frequent Bill Frisell band-mate Eyvind Kang's viola and Peter Scherer's keyboards. The arrangements are embellished with such touches as the siren-like vocals of Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons), thumping keyboards from Keiran Hebden (of Four Tet), and, on the brilliant, wickedly funny "Only An Expert," a gnarly guitar turn from Anderson's husband and co-producer Lou Reed. Homeland, long awaited in recorded form, has evolved over more than two years of touring as Anderson developed the songs in front of concertgoers around the world, from downtown clubs in Manhattan to an amphitheatre in Athens, Greece. The work was shaped more by humanity than by technology; Anderson built an intimate rapport with her audience during a show that featured a shifting set-list of new material and relied on words and music far more than visual and theatrical effects. That intimacy is just as palpable in the songs that evolved to make up her new album.