Get Right, Soul(savers) Church

Surprisingly, this is the first picture of Lanegan on this blog. You'd think I'd have talked about him a lot more. Ah well, expect a review of some of his stuff soon.

It’s been about ten years since Mark Lanegan became the single hardest working man in rock music. The guy never stops singing – just look at the projects he’s been involved in since 1999: three solo albums, one solo EP, three Queens of the Stone Age records, two albums with Isobel Campbell (and one Mercury nomination), some Twilight Singers stuff, the Gutter Twins album and EP, some songs with The Creature with the Atom Brain, a guest spot on Bomb the Bass and The Baldwin Brothers songs, some Desert Sessions, a kids’ song… and not to mention the fact that he’s toured pretty extensively that whole time. It made me tired just remembering and typing it all (because my brain and fingers are feeble things).

But what I didn’t even mention there was his appearance on The Soulsavers last album, It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s The Way You Land, which is arguably one of the best things he’s done this millenium, full of noirish Morricone throwbacks and eerie hymnal ballads. In other words, the perfect vehicle for Lanegan’s throaty growl. Thankfully, the two parties involved seem to have agreed on the strength of the project, and now there’s a new collaboration coming out in mid-August. It’s called Broken, and it features not only Lanegan, but also Bonnie Prince Billy, Jason Pierce and Mike goddamned Patton. And they’re streaming some special previews for the album. Links and thoughts: after the click.

The album art. Looks pretty sweet, eh?

Before I say anything, go click on this link to the Soulsavers’ Myspace, and listen to the first two songs, “Sunrise” and “You Will Miss Me When I Burn”, which will be released as a 7″ promo single soon. And after doing that a couple dozen times, read these thoughts.

Well, first of all, it’s a cool idea for the first single: get Bonnie Prince Billy (henceforth referred to as Will Oldham, since that’s his name) and Mark Lanegan to sing each other’s songs. So Oldham takes Sunrise, from Lanegan’s 1993 masterpiece, Whiskey For The Holy Ghost, and acquits himself pretty well. They take the slow-burning acoustic ballad and give it a little bit of a swagger – it’s not something I’d have pictured working, but Soulsavers have a way of making their covers sound natural, and this is no exception. The touch of bad-ass backwoods harmonica doesn’t hurt either. Overall, it has the effect of taking a conflicted man’s lament and turning it into a cocksure paean to restlessness, which is just the kind of skewing a cover should accomplish. It’s a real pity it’s not making the album proper.

On the other hand (and by “hand”, I clearly mean “side”, since we’re talking about a 7″ single), Lanegan’s take on Oldham’s Palace Brothers song “You Will Miss Me When I Burn” will feature on Broken, and it’s a real treat. A stately, understated piano melody, occasionally adorned with a tasteful string arrangement, and Lanegan’s wondrous croon combine with Oldham’s plaintive, broken lyrics to form a beautifully affecting 4 minutes. It’s the one line that keeps being repeated throughout the song that forms its scarred heart – “When you have no one, no one can hurt you”. Compare it to the Palace Brothers original, and then compare Johnny Cash’s take on “I See A Darkness” to Oldham’s original – it really makes it seem like the Soulsavers could be Lanegan’s Rick Rubin, helping him create something akin to Cash’s American series. Which is, qute clearly, one of the most obvious ideas ever (Lanegan was, after all, one of the writers originally asked to contribute songs to Cash’s first Rubin record) but if the results are this starkly brilliant, I don’t think anyone will be complaining that they saw it coming. It somehow manages to sound even more natural for Lanegan than anything on the Gutter Twins’ Saturnalia did.

It’s really just left me looking forward to the August release of Broken even more than I was beforehand, and besides that, fervently hoping that they’ll see fit to do a show in Ireland this time around. To this day, I’m bitter that I didn’t get to see their live version of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Effigy”. Bah.

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2 Responses to Get Right, Soul(savers) Church

  1. La bUze says:

    once again, Lanegan at his best
    I share your eagerness !

  2. Pingback: Soulsavers – Broken « Mister Hands

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