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Album review: Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan's 'Hawk'

August 23, 2010 |  7:53 pm

Isobel_campbell_240_  Three albums into a creative coupling that’s grown no less odd with age, former Belle & Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell and ex-Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan are still drawing power from the tension between her wispy indie-pop coo and his deep blues-grunge growl.

Yet “Hawk” works best when Campbell — who wrote, produced and arranged most of these 13 tunes — nudges their collaboration into new territory: the lush, retro-’70s soul sound of “Come Undone,” which could have been rescued from an old Bobby Womack record, or “Get Behind Me,” a blast of raw, White Stripes-style garage rock. In the latter, Campbell even turns the tables on her partner, summoning enough bad-seed sass to rival Lanegan’s self-assured cool.

More delicate cuts such as “We Die and See Beauty Reign” and a cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Snake Song” glow with an understated sensuality. But they also feel pretty familiar — more familiar, that is, than their dusty roots-music vibe is intended to feel.

Perhaps Campbell shares that sentiment, as “Hawk” also features a pair of duets with Willy Mason, two solo cuts, an instrumental title track and a closer, “Lately,” on which she cedes vocal duties to Lanegan and a couple of gospel belters.

— Mikael Wood

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan

“Hawk”

(Vanguard)

Two and a half stars (Out of four)


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