Released August 24
When the weathered pipes of grunge affiliate Mark Lanegan teamed up with the pop song writing sensibilities of Isobel Campbell three albums ago many eyebrows were raised.
With a past that’s somewhat heavier than the former Belle and Sebastian member, ex Screaming Trees front-man Lanegan has also had outings with Queens Of The Stone Age and Melissa Auf der Maur amongst others making this project somewhat off his normal rock-laden radar.
Despite the unusual pairing, they’ve become quite the formidable duo with Lanegan’s weathered growl being the ideal counterpoint for Campbell’s subtle blues/folk nuances.
In their previous efforts they’ve never strayed too far from the sparse road of haunting melodies and sultry tempos. The same vibe is ever apparent in ‘Hawk’ but there’s more to this record than we’ve seen in the previous six years of partnership.
‘You Won’t Let Me Down Again’ stinks of shipwrecked love as Lanegan croons: “You thought I was a weaker man, gave up without a sound,” in his trademark gruff while Campbell lurks in the background to put a certain gloss on the soundscape.
There’s a Bond-type mystery that lingers in ‘Come Undone’ as the jazz blues rings through swirling strings and soulful piano stabs while Willy Mason makes the first of a double cameo in ‘No Place To Fall’ before it all gets rather raucous in the blues romp of ‘Hawk’.
Despite the excellent solo effort of ‘Sunrise’, Campbell generally takes a back seat and it feels like Lanegan’s party at times. This is not the case. The song writing comes from the female side of this duo and that’s where the heart is from. Isobel Campbell has shown a wise hand to fashion a sound that suits another so dutifully and makes ‘Hawk’ an intriguing listen.
She’s wise enough to make you want more.