Isobel Campbell is the currently beautiful former chanteuse/cello player for Glasgow-based indie ensemble, Belle & Sebastian. Mark Lanegan is the currently awesome, former frontman of the Screaming Trees and sometimes-singer of Queens Of The Stone Age. Together they are... well, they don't have a cool name like Wild Stallions or anything - they're just Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - but they do make beautiful, thoughtful and timeless music together. Isobel is the delicate flower, the drop of rain sliding gently down your bedroom window, the last ray of light as the sun dips below the horizon. Mark Lanegan on the other hand, is more like a 30 foot wave crashing into the rocky shores of Big Sur, or the bombastic blast of a ship's horn as it's pulls into port.
The pain and isolation of Lanegan's unique baritone and the soft, gentle sweetness of Isobel's singing voice didn't seem like a logical pairing when I first heard about this collaboration. In fact, the first time I listened to the album, I wasn't even sure I liked it. That silliness didn't last long though, as I felt myself repeatedly drawn back to this record. The ethereal majesty of "The False Husband," the title track "Ballad Of The Broken Seas," the simple, acoustic gracefulness of "(Do You Wanna) Come Walk With Me?" and the melodic groove of "Saturday's Gone" kept luring me back to Ballad Of The Broken Seas. Each of those songs is reason enough to pick up a copy of this record, but there are eight other songs on the disc that are all worthy of note - especially the dirty video-having, Hank Williams-penned, "Ramblin' Man."
In case you're curious about such details, Isobel produced all the music and wrote most of the songs, except "Revolver" (for which Lanegan wrote the lyrics and melody and Isobel arranged the strings) and "It's Hard To Kill A Bad Thing" (which was written by Isobel's guitarist, Jim McCulloch).
Ballad Of The Broken Seas isn't going to get the party started, but it's more than perfect for a rainy sunday afternoon in bed with your significant other or a lonely night alone with a bottle of wine and a joint.
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan