I feel like I've blasphemed writing the above sentence...*no one* comes close to Cave (well, except Michael Gira and Cathal Coughlan, but that's a subject for another time.). And up until this album, Lanegan didn't. While the Screaming Trees' liquid psychedelic-blues-garage-grunge was always magnificent, solo albums like 'Scraps At Midnight' and 'Field Songs', while possessing some beautiful moments, lacked the playful humour and experimentation the Cavester and Tom Waits put into their (superficially similar) musical terrain.
No such quibbles here. If Johnny Cash had ever put his name to an album half as good as this, the man might have deserved his posthumous legacy a little more. Perhaps Lanegan's association with the mighty QOTSA has reignited a desire to rock out and take chances, because every song here is different, striking and memorable, overflowing with darkness, pathos, gallows humour and weary defiance. There are stark midnight confessionals like 'When Your Number Isn't Up' and 'Bombed', there are sweet slugs of garage-rock whiskey like 'Hit The City', 'Sideways In Reverse' and the awesome motorik-rhythmed 'Driving Death Valley Blues', which seems to have been seperated at birth from the Queens''Go With The Flow'.
'Methamphetime Blues' is pure Waits, built on drum machines that'll sound primitivist rather than just dated in 20 years, and 'Can't Come Down' is the most abstract thing Lanegan has ever put his name to, a nightmarish swirl of electronics, tumbling drums and pleading vocals. And I have to mention 'Like Little Willie John', which channels the spirit of the blues better than self-conscious fashionista tarts like Jon Spencer and Jack White could ever manage.
There are 15 songs here, so you certainly get a generous helping, and nothing is out of place or overlong (except maybe the outro of 'Morning Glory Wine', if I really wanted to nitpick). Listening to this and the Twilight Singers makes me salivate in anticipation for the hopefully forthcoming-very-soon Gutter Twins and the next QOTSA slice. Spending much of every day bombarded with skinny indie and godawful R'n'B, it's stuff like this that gives you hope for the future.