When this first came out it seemed a bit odd - Young Scottish folk star Campbell paired with Seattle Indie veteran Mark Lanegan? Not a natural pairing. But the music they have produced is superb. From the pen of Campbell, we are presented with deep and moving tales of people and lives broken by love. Campbell's voice floats and dances ethereally around Lanegan's gruff, worldly rumblings, with a spare backing that gives this a timeless, otherworldly atmosphere.
Atmosphere is the word. It is so thick you could cut it with a knife at times. Dense and smokey, with an aftertaste of whiskey and a feeling of regret.
This is a great record of slow burning blues/soul with a jazzy/folky tinge. Thoughtful music, made with conviction by two people who clearly enjoy working with each other and creatively sparking off each other. An album for those long nights alone with painful memories and a bottle of something that burns the throatand dulls the pain of the broken heart.
A classic album, if you like this then check out the follow ups `Sunday At Devil Dirt' and `Keep Me In Mind Sweetheart'. Here's hoping that there's more to come?
If you initially think about this album as a sum of the two known artists; think again! The contrast in the shared vocals only adds to the enjoyable overall effect, quite different from past recordings. Mark Lanegan has gruff, but sensitive, male folk off to a tee, while Isobel's musical and vocal backing is a perfect foil. She particularly shines on one or two solo efforts, with "Saturday's Gone" a new favourite of mine. The effect is enhanced further for me by the excellent quality of the recording on vinyl, giving up many nuances not heard off my wma copy. If you subscibe to the view that computer downloads might harm "sales", remember: I would not have heard or bought this excellent album without the internet. Hope I don't wear out the grooves too quickly.
Isobel Campbell has presented a selection of songs that echo of open plains and small town mentality and has teamed up Mark Lanegan to deliver them like this years Emmylou Harris and Gram Parsons. The songs range from catchy sing-a-long of true alt-country in Ramblin Man and (Do you Wanna) Come Walk with me to the delicate wordplay and melody of Honey Child. Lanegan's vocals are every bit as vital as Rain Dogs era Tom Waits whose influences are also heard in the production of some of the songs. This wide landscape provides the perfect spoil to the urban life obsessesives of 2006 a'la Lilly Allen and the Arctic Monkeys but stands tall on the quality of musicianship and apparent bond between the two protaginists. This is a record that you'll be playing to your grand children.
Who would have expected it in 2006 Belle & Sebastian and ex-member of Belle & Sebastian Isobel Campbell both release albums and the one that grabs most attention is Campbell's. This girl used to be written off as twee but there's nothing twee about this record. From the cover photos and through the songs Isobel twists and plays with the normal preconceptions of male-female roles in music and relationships. Her unexpected partner for this project Lanegan sounds like a younger and sexier Tom Waits and allows Isobel to call the shots and pull the strings.
Okay you can say it's all just an imitation of Nancy & Lee and be cynical if you want but it goes somewhere else. It succeeds where Nick Cave and Kylie's bad Nancy & Lee pastiche failed because the songs are good enough and there's something new here. It's a darker and dirtier take on what Hazelwood did with Sinatra.
Isobel's take on Hank Williams's Ramblin' Man is up there with the best and most unexpected versions of the king of country's songs. If you want a cute little summer day record this is not for you but if you want a record that is darkly sexy, inventive and unexpected you should grab hold of it.
I'm not as keen on reviewing music - it really is a personal thing. "Finest album ever" - "Complete waste of time". I am rarely a mainstream listener, I do like looking for fresh sounds, preferably something that touches me and that will grow on me. This is an interesting album (and not in the sense of being quite inaccessible to most people!) but it wouldn't be too easy to put in a pidgeon hole (which suits me). I don't really agree with the Cohen tag tho I understand why - I hear some early Dylan on some of the tracks and there certainly is a touch of alt country. Their voices really do go well together and the music is very well balanced. Certainly this is "sexy" music to me. Almost a challenge - listen to the final track without pressing repeat! Enjoy it, it's worth discovering
A real gem. Lanegan's croaky baritone and Campbell's sweetness combine on a range of material that echo Leonard Cohen and acoustic Nick Cave, even the alt.coutry of Willard Grant and Giant Sand. The opener is a great example, simple marching rhythym, grumbling Lanegan and the deft touches of Campbell providing a tune that worms into your head all day. Elswhere the Hank Williams cover of Ramblin Man has a loose country feel, 'Saturdays Gone' is a sweet ballad for Campbell and the closer 'Circus Is Leaving Town' a bittersweet and sexy finish. Insrumentation is mostly sparse, but strings add lushness and mood. A real peach of an album, only the instrumental tracks feels a little like filler. If you like this check out Willard Grant Conspiracy 'Regard The End'
Mark Lanegan has already proved his worth collaborating with QOTSA on one of the standout tracks on their 'Lullabies' album and on the rather excellent solo album 'Bubblegum', so joining forces with Belle And Sebastien's Isobel Campbell might have come as a bit of a surprise. The results however are really, REALLY good...sometimes breathtaking! As soon as first track Dues Ibi Est begins you know you're in for something special. Mark Lanegan's growl is used to perfect effect in a Cohen-esque rumbling. Although a handful of the tracks utilise the difference in vocal tones between the two singers to great effect, none-so-better than The False Husband. This is a very special album indeed.