Collaborator extraordinaire Mark Lanegan has hooked up with English multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood for Black Pudding, their debut album on London-based independent record label Heavenly Records. Smoky voiced Seattle troubadour, Lanegan started out as frontman for Screaming Trees before joining Queens of the Stone Age in 2000. He later recorded albums with, amongst others, Soulsavers, Greg Dulli (ex-Afghan Whigs) and most prominently alongside Isobel Campbell (ex-Belle & Sebastian). Throughout his career he has also produced seven solo albums, though the collaborations have been far more copious.
Lanegan has long been an admirer of Garwood, whose fingerpicking guitar work here greatly impresses. At certain points, particularly Pentecostal and the beautiful Manchester Special, it is reminiscent of Ry Cooder at his Paris, Texas peak. There are also shades of Nick Drake, the late great Bert Jansch and much early 70s English folk music – all of which makes for an atmospheric and pleasant listening experience, but also a slightly lacklustre one. There is little new here: the contrast of the gorgeous guitar twangs with Lanegan’s gravelly voice is of interest, but much of the album resembles background film music for a latter day Western, similar to what Nick Cave has recently produced.
It’s a very decent album, but one can’t help feeling that they can both do better solo work (there’s enough here to lead listeners back to Garwood’s earlier recordings). And despite the numerous side projects, Lanegan has done his best work with his own band, last year’s Funeral Blues being his best album since his magnum opus Bubblegum in 2004. Much to enjoy here, but they can both do better.
Black Pudding is released on 13th May, but you can pre-order the album here.
Watch the video for Pentecostal here