Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Keep this in mind for your Christmas stockings ... (8/10), 9 Dec. 2008
This review is from: Keep Me In Mind Sweetheart (Audio CD)
When it was released earlier this year I resisted `Sunday At Devil Dirt', Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan's well-received, rather tongue-in-cheek take on Americana, their second full-length collaboration. It seemed to me too studied, too contrived somehow, a feeling heightened by the fact that Lanegan is something of a hired gun these days - having also supplied vocals to the highly mediocre trip-hoppery of Soulsavers, among others - adding instant gravitas with his Bourban-and-cigarettes-chiselled baritone. Written by the waifish Scottish indie darling Campbell, I couldn't help think of Lanegan as a kind of country-rock Ol' Dirty Bastard (R.I.P), enlisted to add an air of debauchery to other people's records. OK, so I was wrong! The whole enterprise might have appeared more cynical had Campbell been trying to deliver an imitation of dust-blown authenticity. However, this is more revisionist high-jinx than soul-searching alt-country: no naked emotional honesty here, but rather fully-costumed period theatre in the mould of Lee & Nancy or Johnny Cash. Like Micah P Hinson's fine `... Red Empire Orchestra`, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan's output is stylised and cinematic, not as bleak or skeletal as some more orthodox Stateside folk and country.

If you were not persuaded by `Sunday at Devil Dirt', the `Keep Me In Mind Sweetheart EP` may change your mind. Asides the gorgeous eponymous single taken from the album, the EP comprises five tracks "kept back" from the LP for release later in the year - and a timely little stocking filler it is too! I consider myself a Christmassy person, and it may be just me but I can't help hearing in the tracks selected for this EP a kind of Yuletide warmth. `Fight Fire With Fire' finds Lanegan Leonard Cohening-it-up over a woozy fireside waltz (hmm, is that possible?) that recalls Sheffield's own retro crooner Richard Hawley. Rather drowse-inducing in its repetition, is swirls gently around in a one-two-many-mulled-wines-dozing-off-in-a-comfy-chair kind of way. 'Asleep On A Sixpence' is a cello and piano-led vagabond ballad that sounds like Tom Waits gatecrashing a Christmas carol concert, an effect evoked by the appropriation of `While Shepherd's Watch Their Flocks' as an outro. `Rambling Rose' is admittedly not seasonal at all, unless you consider tumbleweeds and pedal steel guitar part of your regular yuletide get-up. But again Campbell puts just enough reverb into the mix to subtly subvert the country textures with an air of languid detachment. Finally, `Hang On' is Lanegan-free dream pop featuring Isobel Cambell's sweet, airy vocals over a delicate guitar refrain that recalls early Velvet Underground, but with Nico's voice somehow digitally de-Germanified. First published at the Line of Best Fit.
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Location: London / Grenoble

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