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Friday, March 24, 2006

LISTENING POST: CD REVIEWS

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan "Ballad of the Broken Seas"


Isobel Campbell, formerly of the twee neofolk Glaswegian group Belle & Sebastian, has teamed up with Mark Lanegan, former lead singer of American grunge rockers Screaming Trees, for this unlikely collaboration. The appeal of the pairing lies in the contrast in vocal styles of the two singers -- Campbell has a light, airy purr, while Lanegan's deep, sonorous growl speaks of hardship and woe.

In a collaboration via mail, Campbell wrote most of the songs and sent tapes to Lanegan in Los Angeles, who added vocals. The result is reminiscent of past odd couples such as Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, or Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, with many of the duets reeking of the emotional violence of heartbreak. "Revolver," the only Lanegan-penned cut, is another emotionally intense coupling, while the light and sunny "Honeychild What Can I Do" is an exception to the generally dark mood.

It's a pity Campbell has intimated that these two disparate voices are unlikely to collaborate again anytime soon. Their potential together is as vast as the distance that separates them.



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