She's a founding member of the Scottish alt-pop band Belle and Sebastian. He's the gravel-voiced singer for Screaming Trees, Soulsavers and Gutter Twins. Together, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan have released a pair of oddly affecting collaborative albums of moody cinematic ballads and ragged Americana: 2006's Mercury Prize-nominated Ballad of the Broken Seas and '08's Sunday at Devil Dirt. While Lanegan's distinctive growl became one defining aspect of the albums, Campbell served as the driving creative force, writing and arranging the songs, serving as duet counterpart and producing the sessions. It was clear that Campbell was expected to do what Lanegan referred to as "the heavy lifting."
New August 24 release Hawk (Vanguard) finds Campbell again taking the "director's role" on the album's thirteen tracks, utilizing Lanegan on eight and neo-folk singer Willy Mason on two. "Things are a bit more complicated with me," she observes, "where I kind of assemble these groups of players to execute the things I’m hearing in my head." A pair of well-chosen Townes Van Zandt tracks ("No Place to Fall" with Mason, "Snake Song" with Lanegan) conjure a Texas dustbowl authenticity to the mix while the somber slow-dance "Come Undone" and haunting roadhouse ramble "You Won't Let Me Down Again" (featuring ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha) keep the mood in a shadowy and timeless tumbleweed dreamscape. Recommended.
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - "Come Undone" (from the album Hawk)
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - "You Won't Let Me Down Again" (from the album Hawk)