Release Date: Mar 7, 2006
Record label: V2
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
It's tempting to say something facile like "beauty meets the beast" in writing about this collaboration between former Belle & Sebastian member Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, best known for his work with Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age. After all, Campbell's voice is all sweet angelic whisper while Lanegan's whisky-and-nicotine rasp sounds like the product of ten thousand nights in a barroom, but somehow these sweet and sour elements come together with striking and impressive results on Ballad of the Broken Seas. It helps that musically these two are not far away from the same page; the ghostly blues-based structures of Lanegan's Whiskey for the Holy Ghost and The Winding Sheet may be starker than Campbell's stuff with Belle & Sebastian or her solo set Amorino, but they both appear to revel in the sort of glorious sadness that draws beauty from melancholy, and they find a dark and lovely common ground on this set of songs.
The result of a high-tech tape-trading spree between two artists from opposite ends of the earth, Ballad Of The Broken Seas riffs on a masculine and feminine narrative that is at once timeless and timeworn. With his elemental growl and rural gothic sensibility, ex-Screaming Tree Mark Lanegan sounds like he’s gargled on a hundred miles of bad road, while Isobel Campbell’s otherworldly coo reminds us why she’s Glasgow’s poster girl of twee. As solo performers, both singers fashion evocative set pieces that are often arresting but a bit monochromatic.