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Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan

'Sunday at Devil Dirt'

Released on 5 May 2008 on V2

Following up 2006's Mercury-nominated 'Ballad of the Broken Seas' would seem inconceivable to most acts, but the combination of Glasgow's Isobel Campbell, one time member of the hyper-twee Belle and Sebastian, with grunge overlord Mark Lanegan is as fruitful a combination as it sounds unlikely. Mark comes across like a pissed-off Lee Hazlewood and nevermoreso than on 'The Raven' while Isobel, fittingly, adopts a levelling Nancy Sinatra role on much of the album. At least vocally - unlike Sinatra, Isobel wrote, played and produced pretty much everything on this album.

Split into three discernible parts, 'Sunday at Devil Dirt' begins with a medley of soundtrack bliss, swamped in strings in which recent single 'Who Built the Road' sits snugly, and while 'Come On over (Turn Me On)' may suffer slightly from slightly hackneyed lyrics it compensates with a cinematic / blues landscape that lesser artists would have already licenced to a car advert. This track bridges into a short, murky dive into a section of gruff blues.

'Back Burner' is all country hip-gyrating, sexual moaning and (eventually) abstract piano while 'Shot Gun Blues' finds Isobel taking lead vocal for one of the few times on the record cooing incestuous lyrics over a dirty blues slide guitar in a combination more deep south than Louisiana Gumbo and Britney Spears.

The finest moments of the album are saved for the relatively jocular and hopeful 'Something to Believe' and, by way of an about turn, the astounding and hopeless 'Trouble' which both make up a lighter, more harmonious final third. They're perfectly enjoyable in isolation but all the sweeter, all the more 'earned' when the record player's needle hits the home straight.

At times saturnine, at times fiendishly sanguine, 'Sunday at Devil Dirt' is a shining collaboration. The latest installment from this contrary alliance has made an early bid for album of the year.

Posted on 5 May 2008 by Richard Brown

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Article Feedback

bjorn cyborg wrote:
this sounds great although it's ages to wait!
     Posted on 17 April 2008 at 11:04

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