Mark Lanegan: Blues Funeral
Mark Lanegan has one of the most distinctive voices in alternative rock. His deep, gravelly baritone is as haunting as it is rich. Ever since the break-up of his 90’s band, the Screaming Trees, he has been something of a musical character actor. He’s the guy Queens of the Stone Age call on when they need someone to give weight to their songs for the dead. He’s Isobel Campbell’s chosen foil, the harmonious ebony to her ivory. He’s the only man Greg Dulli is comfortable calling his Gutter Twin. Somehow, among all his other projects, he’s found the time to release seven solo albums. Blues Funeral is his latest.
The music here is as dark and gloomy as you’d expect from an album called Blues Funeral. Here are some sample song titles: “The Gravedigger’s Song,” “Bleeding Muddy Water,” “St. Louis Elegy,” and “Phantasmagoria Blues.” Not particularly cheerful stuff. The music, for the most part, is slow and mournful. The only time he rocks out like QOTSA is on “Riot In My House,” which features lead guitar from Josh Homme. Lanegan also experiments with electronics with mixed results. “Ode to Sad Disco” is a decent club track that still doesn’t really make you feel like dancing, while on “Harborview Hospital” he dips his toes in New Order territory and it comes off kind of weird. In some places the drum machine adds to the coldness of the material while in others they make you scratch your head.
This is not my favorite piece of work Mark Lanegan has put out. Still, there is something about his voice that is undeniable and I can’t help but love. It’s one of the most quintessentially American voices out there. He has soul, blues, and country all mixed up in one grungy package. This may not be the best starting point, but you should familiarize yourself with this man and his music right away if you haven’t already.