on 21 April 2004
FS is Lanegans 5th solo release after splitting with the now defunctSeattle band The Screaming Trees in the late 90s, & marks anunquestioanable maturity/ coming of age. The slightly folk & countrytones heard on Whiskey.. are all here except in much better form. Thisman delivers soul & blues for real, theres no 'performance' here- nopretending in any way. His songs & voice feel lived in, & the sincerity &honesty with which he lays himself bare, makes him a singer/swriter in thetruest sense; think BW Johnson (or any old delta blues singers), Tom Waits(literally- with his deep gravely baritone), & the likes of Van M & NickDrake for their passion & tenderness. I have 3 of his albums; 89's WindingSheet & 93's Whiskey for The Holy Ghost, & its strange that my favouritesare both WS & FS, as they are the most contrasting of the three, with WS'syounger mans voice & characteristically 'grunge' sound, playing with Kurt& Chris from Nirvana, in what I feel is an albeit lesser known but seminalpiece of work. Whiskey.. was a great step forward in evoloving - youimmediately sensed his heart was in the blues, folk & country music, butthe album (although it seems his most popular & did have a few 5*tracks), to me- lacked the consistency that Fsongs deliverd. FS is theperfect fullfilment of all that was beautifull about Whiskey with itshaunting atmospherics.
It opens with the spookily mysterious but utterly mezmerising One WayStreet; "..The stars & the moon arn't where theyre supposed to be.. forthe strange electric light it falls so close to me.. love I come to ridehigh on that seasick rolling wave, & you know that i am just trying to getout, oh the glorious sound.. oh the one way st. but you cant get, cant getit down without crying". He manages to sound unflinchingly masculine yetutterly vulnerable, expressing what could so easily turn to cheddar inanyone elses hands. His deep rasp is weatherd & weary, yet it explodeswith both romanticism & passion. Ohh the testosterone emanating from myspeakers!
There are so many highlights on this album; NEA, DFM, Rsong, Fsong & mypers. fave Low- a heart wrenchingly beautiful tune lamenting the death oflove & a painful past. Long time collaborator Mike Johnsons (ex DinasaurJnr's) tender acoustics, are accompanied by a gorgeous hammond organ, &lends a country music vibe which is well... a bit of a tear jerker quitefrankly, but strangely uplifting & healing by the same token. Mark seemsto have a gift for wrapping up beauty & sadness in the same packagelifting them to lush heights. He touches that very human fragile part ofyou (or me at least), & quite simply- it feels good.
High on feedback drenched atmospherics, FS has you lamenting romantically,leaving you somehow glad to be alive despite lifes 'challenges'. His wellknown themes/ battles with addiction etc on previous albums are here onFix; "..gonna drive that terraplane across the frozen ocean, weve alwaysbeen together & its good..", with its haunting slide guitar and twangycountryness is an eerie murky number . Incidentally it has Duff McKagenfrom GNRoses on bass & guitar, & also Ben Shepherd (ex Soundgarden).
Fsongs is another winner! "Lets walk down to the water, theres hyacinthin bloom.. spend my days lovin you..i left these fields because I neverknew.." It opens with a dreamy echoing electric guitar alongside acousticstrumming, in some sort of psychadellic country inflected haze.
Kimikos.. is a gentle pretty acoustic song co written with the Gun ClubsJeffrey Lee Pierce before he died, & I would imagine is very special toMark, but im afraid I find it a bit 'clutterd' in parts, but that said isstill lovely.
The melancholy Blues For D is the only instrumental here, & is without aconventional 'song structure' as it drifts along, again with both acoustic& electric picking, bass, sound effects & gentle piano accompaniment.
This is a beautiful collection of songs, containing just enough ambiguity& mystery to colour in the magical images of shimmering golden light,starry nights, & wild open spaces conjured up in your head, (although I ido kinda miss the violin appearances you get on whiskey ala-'Carnival', ima sukka for that weepy folky thing!). Also check out the covers albumIll Take Care Of You, Lanegans interpretations of old Southern Soul &country influences that he makes his own, & his upcoming album Bubblegum;which sees many collaborators inc. QOTSAge fman Jhommes, & a duet with'the' lady PJ Harvey.
All in all FSONGS is an excellent buy id heartily recommend as either anintro, or addition to any of Lanegans work .