Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan: Sunday At Devil Dirt- Album Review

In the lead up to the Mercury Prize-nominated Ballad Of Broken Sea I thought Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan were definitely the oddest odd couple of music.  I had difficulty imagining how the former Screaming Trees growler would mesh with the pixie-esque former Belle & Sebastian member.

Did they ever mesh.  That album was breath-taking.  The duo's new album Sunday At Devil Dirt is not far behind.

Once again we get Lanegan's bourbon-drenched bluesy vocals teamed with Campbell's delicate angelic whispers.  The songs are simple yet dramatic.  The music perfectly framing the cinematic and haunting tracks.

We get ooos, ahhhs, and whistles on songs like "Who Build The Road" and the Leonard Cohen-like "Something To Believe".  We get bouncy piano pop on "Sally, Don't You Cry" and sweeping string cinematic arrangements on "Come On Over (Turn Me On)".  Yet each of these styles is done with an air of American Gothic, that is soulful and folksy.

However, Campbell and Lanegan are best when their voices interact.  The back-and-forth on "Trouble" makes for one of the more beautiful songs of 2008.

Also included is a song based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" as recited by Lanegan.  This is far easier on the ears, but still just as eerie, as Lou Reed's version.

Sunday At Devil Dirt is another demonstration that in the case of Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, opposites do attract.  And the audience is the happy beneficiary.

Best tracks: "Come On Over (Turn Me On)", "Trouble"

Track listing for Sunday At Devil Dirt:
  • Seafaring Song
  • The Raven
  • Salvation
  • Who Built The Road
  • Come On Over (Turn Me On)
  • Back Burner
  • The Flame That Burns
  • Shotgun Blues
  • Keep Me In Mind, Sweetheart
  • Something To Believe
  • Trouble
  • Sally, Don't You Cry
  • Fight Fire With Fire
  • Asleep On a Sixpence
  • Violin Tango
  • Rambling Rose, Clinging Vine
  • Hang On
  • Sleep City
8.0

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