thu 25/05/2017

CD: Mark Lanegan - Imitations | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Mark Lanegan - Imitations

CD: Mark Lanegan - Imitations

Grouchy ex-grunger sets the controls for old-fashioned mellow on a set of covers

Not all the album's covers are as unadorned

Mark Lanegan is a forbidding figure, which makes him appealing. In interviews he’s often taciturn and not very likeable, as if he cannot be bothered with the presentation of his art to the media. Good on him. There are now a billion bum-suckers out there who’d fuck a chicken on YouTube if they thought it would draw attention to whatever paltry excuse for music they were pushing at the time.

Lanegan, on the other hand, is a dark horse, a 48-year-old ex-junkie from Seattle who was making grunge before that term existed, and who’s gone on to become a grizzled Americana vocalist-for-hire, from his tenure with Queens of the Stone Age to more recent hook-ups with Moby and Massive Attack.

Following last year’s Blues Funeral album, his latest pays tribute to the easy listening records of his parents – “Music with string arrangements and men singing songs that sounded sad whether they were or not,” as he puts it – on a dozen covers that combine orchestral stylings with spartan makeovers akin to the later works of Johnny Cash. His voice has a lot of Cash about it, but is also reminiscent here of the late Lee Hazlewood, who injected lounge music with his own unnerving strangeness.

The songs range from obvious standards, such as “You Only Live Twice” and “Mack the Knife”, which Lanegan pares back to acoustic guitar growlers, to sumptuous orchestral takes on more leftfield fare such as Nick Cave’s “Brompton Oratory”, which ends up sounding like a lush outtake from Lou Reed’s Transformer, or opener “Flatlands”, originally by twitchy Californian goth-folker Chelsea Wolfe. And then there are other curiosities such as an impeccably melancholy take on old school country dude Vern Gosdin’s “She’s Gone”. The most obvious touchstone, however, is Andy Williams. Three songs here were Williams regulars, including the perennial "Autumn Leaves", and Lanegan stretches his baritone in a manner very akin to the King of Easy. He shows us his crooner's side without any irony, which proves both unselfconscious and satisfying.

Overleaf: listen to the single "I'm Not The Loving Kind", originally by John Cale

His voice has a lot of Johnny Cash about it, but also reminds of the late Lee Hazlewood, who injected lounge music with his own unnerving strangeness

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Comments

She's gone is not the hall and Oates version

Cheers, Anonymous, you showed me up pretty good. Deservedly so. Have corrected the mistake now.

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