Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Dec.1st: I dig the Stones, you dig 'Sheer Heart Attack'

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan- Sunday at Devil Dirt (US Edition) (Fontana 2008)

I'm a big Belle & Sebastian fan; however I'm a post-Isobel Campbell B&S fan. I first came across the band on 2003's Dear Catastrope Waitress, after Campbell had left, and I personally don't think the band are any poorer without her. I've always found her voice too light for my tastes-and I found the one solo album I own, The Green Fields of Foreverland, slightly too sugary and twee.
However, the combo of Campbell with ex-Screaming Tree Mark Lanegan offered something unexpected and original, and their first collaboration, Ballad Of The Broken Seas (2006) was a pleasant surprise. Sparse, dusty Americana, two disparate voices which somehow complemented each other.
....Devil Dirt is essentially, more of the same, with an expanded sound (organs; a gospel choir and jazz-bar piano outro on 'Back Burner'). Anyone hoping to hear lots of Isobel will be disappointed; the majority of leads are sung by Lanegan, Campbell mostly having a background role of arranger,backing vocalist and songwriter (all songs but one are her originals). On the Fontana edition, several bonus tracks are added, many of which were added to a subsequent EP in the UK, and these bonus tracks are some of the strongest songs on the record, particularly the comparitively danceable 'Hang On'.
Overall, ...Devil Dirt seems a weaker album than Ballads of The Broken Sea, possibly because the partnership's element of surprise  has worn off. In parts it seems more like a Mark Lanegan solo effort than a collaboration.

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