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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not an instant classic, but still good,
This review is from: Hawk (Audio CD)I've got an advance copy of this album and have given it it 2 or 3 listenings so far.
My first impressions are that it isn't as strong as the previous albums overall, however it's still a lot better than most music out there and there are some great moments in there.
Trying to work out why I wasn't quite so impressed with this album I relistened to my personal favourite 'Ballad of the Broken Seas'. What I love about that album is the use of the two artist personalities Mark's growling apocolpytic cowboy and Isobel's lilting folk temptress are at their best when they have a dialogue together. Songs like 'The False Husband' where he asks and she answers, or the super sexy 'Ramblin' Man' with their overlayed vocal tracks are simply amazing. Sometimes they would trade off individual tracks so Mark gets the tital track and Isobel get's 'Saturday's Gone' and the rest of the time they come together in sweet harmony.
Well... 'Hawk' relies much more on this last type of song, essentially Mark leading and Isobel providing little more than backing vocals. Their collaberation began as her idea and her style guided much of the earlier work, but on this third record it feels like Mark is driving, much more of his sound and less of hers - though in certain songs that perfect balance is still there, most clearly in the haunting opening track 'We Die and See Beauty Reign'(which unfortunatly got me really excited and left me a bit disappointed with what followed). 'Come Undone' is also very good, but reminded me of the superior earlier song 'Come on Over (Turn me on)'.
Isobel does get two solo tracks again 'Sunrise' and 'To Hell and Back again', but they are placed back to back and so don't punctuate the album as well as before.
One last point - the previous albums managed to be playful but unified, or rather whilst being varied the songs had a coherent sense of time and place (the same place PJ Harvey was singing 'To Bring you my Love' from I think). 'Hawk' is mostly coming from the same locale, but one or two elements seem quite jarring here - there is a Celtic element to the music of 'Eyes of Green' that seems out of place here (not a bad song, just out of place) and I've never really liked gospel choral elements; they rarely work and often sound like cheap shorthand for 'this song is uplifting a-don't-you-know' so I was disappointed to hear it in the album closer here 'Lately'. By far their weakest album closer yet compared with the moody evokative 'The Circus is Leaving Town' or 'Sally don't you cry'.
So in conclusion - certainly worth checking out and personal taste, as ever, will play a big factor, but I've tried to offer a few reasoned and reasonably objective comments (or at least note when something is just a matter of taste - like not liking gospel choir). However, writing this (and listening to Lanegan's solo 'Bubblegum' album as I did so) I can't help that think that 'Hawk' is a bit of a disappointment - 3.5 stars if I could, but as I can't 4 because compared with most music it's still very good.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hawk, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Another excellent outing for this unlikely duo,Keep Me In Mind Sweetheart, made up of leftovers from earlier albums I was a little worried that this was the last we would hear from the duo. But my fears have been allayed, and here they are again with another cracking album.
When they first appeared together in 2006, with the sublime Ballad Of The Broken Seas, we were all awestruck at how the incredibly unlikely combination of Lanegan's gruff growl and Campbell's sweet lyrical phrasings mix to give a sound of amazing depth and feeling. On this, their third full length album, the surprise at how well the combination works has worn off a little, we are now in awe of the sheer consistency of their work together, and how every album reaches such heights.
Once again the mood is reflective, with tales of love and regret that would fit in well for an evening alone with memories and a bottle of wine. The opening few tracks are slow, smoky pieces that just burn straight through to the soul. From about track six the tone becomes a little more varied, with the inclusion of a few nice up tempo tracks that evoke the same mood but stop the record becoming monotonous. A lot of work has gone into putting the tracks into the best listening order to make this a coherent album, and it shows.
A highly recommended album, one that will appeal to those who like meaningful and emotionally intense music which packs a real punch. If there is any justice then this album should win a few awards. Excellent work Isobel and Mark, I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
4.0 out of 5 stars Campbell & Lanegan hit right note,
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars They don't make albums like that anymore, unless,Ballad Of The Broken Seas and Sunday At Devil Dirt. This varied album is bluesier (one track reminds me of a softer 22-20s, another of Booker T. & The MG's meet The Stooges), grittier and even gospel-y on the last track. One of the songs picked up by radios has a bit of James Brown's 'It's A Man's World' in it. There are also hints at Mazzy Star when Isobel takes lead singing. I like what these two do. You should do too.
9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than "Sunday at Devil Dirt",
This review is from: Hawk (Audio CD)Just wanted to offer another opinion in contrast to other reviews I've read. I am primarily a Lanegan fan, and would almost certainly never have bought anything by Campbell if he hadn't been involved. The fact that he features more heavily in this album (as the other reviewer notes) is a good thing for me. I liked "Ballad of The Broken Seas," but I felt that "Sunday at Devil Dirt" was a poor effort. It brought no new ideas, just tried to squeeze as much out of the same ideas as the first album, and consequntly seemed like a substandard disc of songs rejected from the first one.
This outing on the other hand, is different. It does feature Lanegan much more, and subtly changes the direction of their collaboration. Some of the songs are more modern and guitar driven, while still keeping a lot of that folky vibe. There's a few swinging blues-type numbers too. I get a slight Nashville feeling listening to some of it. I agree with the other reviewer that perhaps the Campbell songs are a bit jarring, though perhaps for different reasons; they are much weaker than Lanegan's numbers, and don't suit the vibe of the first few songs on the album, but I expected that.... ;-) Standout tracks include "You Won't Let Me Down Again" & "Snake Song."
You'll see I still gave it 4 stars, because the strength of the good songs more than makes up for any weaknesses (unlike "Sunday at Devil Dirt....")I'll sum it up like this: If you are a Lanegan fan and you were disappointed with the last album, you will like this.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another winning collaboration,
This review is from: Hawk (Audio CD)Campbell is the main driver of this project, writing most of the songs, but these albums wouldn't have the same without Lanegan's voice.
This is an extremely accessible album, as they try out lots of different styles. We Die and See Beauty Reign is a fairly slight, spooky duet but it's followed by You Won't Let Me Down Again. This is a confident, striding track built on a James Iha riff with a great melody and a really good vocal from Lanegan.
Townes Van Zandt casts a long shadow over this album, as 2 of his songs are covered here, Snake Song and No Place To Fall. The first of these is a fairly faithful interpretation. Van Zandt's music has been cited as an influence on Lanegan's solo albums, and this comparison may go some way towards explaining why he chose to sit out the second of these tracks, allowing Willy Mason to take the vocals. Some might find his vocals jarring but he fits in fine here in my opinion, adding a sort of curveball into the mix. His voice is not too far removed from Van Zandt's, and there is a nice fiddle part here also.
In between these tracks is Come Undone, which is like a mixture of Come On Over (Turn Me On) from previous album Sunday at Devil Dirt, and James Brown's It's A Man's Man's World. So an unashamed big ballad then, featuring strings and a kitchen-sink style arrangement, and wonderfully tender vocals from Campbell and Lanegan.
The moods shift and twist throughout this album, as Get Behind Me is a kind of bluesy stomp, as is the title track. Time of the Season, however is a gorgeous duet, more akin to Honey Child What Can I Do (off Ballad of the Broken Seas) with sweeping strings and harmonies.
Without the counterfoil of Lanegan, Isobel Campbell does not fare so well, Sunrise and To Hell and Back Again, which she handles on her own are a little precious, straying into Hope Sandoval territory. Cool Water sees the return of Willy Mason, and it's a wonderfully understated, relaxed ballad, sounding like it could have been recorded any time in the last 50 years, with charming car horn honks.
Eyes of Green is like a traditional Irish jig (!) while Lately is an optimistic Dylanesque closer, sung by Mark Lanegan, helped along by a gospel choir, overcooking the song somewhat.
The album is a little hit and miss but in general it works pretty well, with the odd surprise here and there. Although with this collaboration spanning 3 albums it has probably run its course, with little else left to said between these two.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh Wow another haunting classic,
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This review is from: Hawk (Audio CD)I am almost afraid to review this CD as nothing I say will do it justice. But its so good I have to tell the world. For those of you who have enjoyed the other Campbell and Lanegan records well the quality continues into this record. For those of you who have never heard of them I wish I was like you, as I could then buy all three at once and hear them for the first time. This is a truly remarkable CD, its hard to describe for most of the pleasure is in the vocals and you have to hear them to know it, however if you put a gun to my head I would say that they sound like a reincarnation of Sandy Denny and a tuneful Tom Waits (but enjoyable to listen to) The music is largely acoustic blues but with some notable exceptions where electric guitars make a raucous appearance, the music also takes note from country and folk, its soulful without being soul but most of all haunting.
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Continuing their journey in fine style,
This review is from: Hawk (Audio CD)Well you can certainly say of Isobel Campbell, " you've come long way baby" I wonder if Lanegan and Isobel are fed up of reviews banging on about their being the odd couple given their relationship has lasted over 6 years, 3 albums, 2 eps and the We Were Only Riders collaboration? To me it's looking/sounding like a marriage made in heaven. This is an utterly gorgeous album and so far from being an odd couple, the tracks that do sound "odd " are the 2 with Willy Mason ; nothing wrong with them, but they just lack the magical combination of Lanegan and Campbell.
Hawk doesn't have the same narrative form as Ballad of the Broken Seas, which to a lesser extent was shared with Sunday at Devil Dirt. Those albums felt like the soundtrack of some Tennessee Williams/Carson McCullers/Flannery O'Conner Southern Gothic drama(possibly as the combination of Lanegan and Campbell was initially so odd the need for a back story was justified) Here it's purely the music and nothing more is needed.
(Except a new and long-overdue solo Lanegan album )
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No more surprises,
This review is from: Hawk (Audio CD)So the novelty effect is gone and the Nancy&Lee comparisons are all played out.
It indeed IS all Campbell's work and credit where credit's due.
But in the end it's Lanegan's voice that once again does the trick for me.
Solid album, good tracks and Willy Mason on two songs is a bonus.
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