‘And your tears feel like champagne…’
And your voice sounds like 30 years of Jim Beam and Woodbines, with a steady diet of raw salted pork, Mark Lanegan. Through The Screaming Trees, Queens Of The Stone Age, to The Gutter Twins (with The Afghan Whigs’ lothario Greg Dulli), Lanegan has loomed as a dark angel of integrity over the grunge/alt.rock/late-night-white-soul-troubadour scene since the early nineties. Within his chosen field (gravelly voice, blues guitars, occasional hypnotic beats, quasi-religious vocals), you may say it’s hard to actually put a foot wrong – but it’s the conviction and sheer involvement with which he delivers his roasted laments that remains.
Duke Garwood arises as a perfect foil, his Ry Cooder-isms (circa ‘Paris, Texas’) keeping the whole album stately, warm, desert-dry, and more than anything else, very ‘cared-for’ sounding. These guys know what history means, and why it matters in music – they do not produce, they write and perform, without under-or-over-reaching; and hit the mark on pretty much every track.
‘Mescalito’ recalls The Cure’s ‘Seventeen Seconds’ rhythmically and atmosperically, with Wilco and Cooder again poking their Stetsons over the sandbags. ‘Pentecostal’ is proper roots-blues, grit-between-the-teeth stuff, Leadbelly or Robert Johnson looming large. ‘Cold Molly’ is splendidly groovy, somehow invoking Stevie Wonder In Hell. ‘Thank You’ is stunning, Eno-esque treatments colliding with circling cellos, to somehow filter a feeling of an honest Bono on methadone before the hideous ambition sent everything south.
‘Driver’ is Jonny Greenwood while asleep, being spooned by Jeff Buckley, while ‘Shade Of The Sun’ purely reflects the most sublime moments of Tom Waits AND somehow Scott Walker. This album is a thing to curl up with your lover to, open that patient bottle of red to, and watch the sun rise-sun set to. Yes, Lanegan and Garwood surely know their history, and on a recording so mature, loved, comforting, baked as ‘Black Pudding, it’s an inspiring thing.
Sean Bw Parker