album reviews

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
Vanguard (2010)

Kindred spirits: Belle & Sebastian, Screaming Trees, Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood

It's an odd pairing: She was in the wistful indie-pop band Belle & Sebastian; he was the frontman for the grunge band Screaming Trees. Yet the match works surprisingly well, and Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan have released three full-length albums of sultry, laid-back American tunes.

Their most recent, "Hawk," yet again shows the balance that each singer brings to the other's voice. He grounds her airy sigh on the dreamy "Time of the Season," while songs such as "You Won't Let Me Down Again" find her taking some of the edge off his gravelly croon.

Even so, "Hawk" still feels at times like a Campbell solo album on which Lanegan is a guest. When she sings without him on "Sunrise," her brooding vocals are reminiscent of Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval, and Willy Mason stands in for Lanegan on a cover of Townes Van Zandt's "No Place to Fall." As compelling as those tunes are, the strongest moments on "Hawk" are those that feature the obvious chemistry between Lanegan and Campbell.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 15 October 2010
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