Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Hawk
Three albums in there's no denying that the collaboration between Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan has been a productive and inspiring one for our heroes, and while Hawk may just contain some of their best work, it does so in a slightly disjointed fashion that fails to quite hang together. Lanegan takes more of a backseat role this time around, with some solo Campbell material and Willy Mason stepping into Lanegan's big boots for two tracks, leaving more of a solo album (with guest stars) feel than previous.
Early tracks, like the spooky opener and 'Snake Song' continue to mine the rich vein of Americana the pair previously worked, while 'Come Undone' is a sultry slow soul number, the moody Gallic strings suggesting Lanegen may have been persuaded to temporarily swap his Marlboro for Gauloises. 'Time of the Season' brings a chirpy festive spirit to proceedings, although Glen Campbell would never have mumbled his way through the song in the way Isobel and Mark do here. The title track's instrumental sax-fuelled r'n'b brings a bit of tempo (although it has vague air of novelty factor about it) before the two Campbell solo offerings. 'Sunrise' is a little slight, but 'To Hell And Back Again' has all the langour of prime Mazzy Star and is perhaps a reminder that her next project should be a proper solo album, further encouraged by competent (although arguably unnecessary) contributions of two Townes Van Zandt covers from Mason. The album ends strongly with the accordion undercurrent of 'Eyes of Green' bringing a little extra colour (although it's short by a least a verse and chorus) and the gospel country of 'Lately' rounding things out rather nicely.
Campbell's growing confidence in terms of songwriting and arrangement is obvious, and in Lanegen she's found the perfect musical muse. Fans of their previous efforts will not be disappointed.