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Campbell & Lanegan CD Review

| January 25, 2006

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
Ramblin’ Man

Indie odd couple drag their fingers through the mud on preview EP.

While maybe feeding Stuart Murdoch’s ego too much, the departures of Isobel Campbell and Stuart David from Belle & Sebastian five-or-so years ago still stand as additions by subtractions. Campbell, in particular (“Is it wicked not to care?” puh-leeeze), was a lightning rod for critics who detested B&S’ preciousness, her girlish “singing” as musical as a toy xylophone. Three “solo” albums since — two leading Gentle Waves — only affirmed her inefficacy, ready to render her a footnote. But consider this collaboration a defibrillator. More than novelty, ex-Screaming Trees/Queens Of The Stone Age man Lanegan underpins her with his roadworn drawl like exfoliating branches to her blossom.

The title track is textbook Tom Waits with Campbell’s masked backup giving her previously unexhibited sexuality, but the comearound is in the heavily tremeloed “Revolver Pt. 2,” a desperate Low template uncomfortably (to good effect) mixed and split in the speakers. The other two tracks still pin her to points where she sounds wafer thin, but take ’em for the other two. The full-length, due this spring, is suddenly exciting.


— Steve Forstneger

Category: Spins, Weekly

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