Those looking for some stylistic shifts in Mark Lanegan's fifth solo outing might be a bit disappointed. Lanegan pours out blues- and gospel-tinged country-rock over ice and sips it for 42 and a half minutes – and that's precisely what he's been up to since 1990's The Winding Sheet. Why the heck not? He's damn good at it, and he proves it here on Field Songs. Some new things are abreast on this record as Ben Shepherd (Soundgarden) is present on most tracks lending his guitar and bass hands. Also present are Bill Rieflin (KMFDM, Lard, Ministry, etc.) and Duff McKagen (Guns N' Roses) who each play on one track and are a part of Lanegan's touring band along with Shepherd. Mike Johnson (Dinosaur Jr.) has been on each of Lanegan's albums and continues to add much of the building blocks and the mortar necessary to pluck out these songs that are constructed much in the same vein as in the past but with some nuances and a greater color depth.
By now, anyone who has heard one of Mark Lanegan's solo albums knows exactly what the others will sound like – Lanegan's weathered, smoky voice intones tales of quiet desperation over echoing electric guitar arpeggios, folky acoustic guitar work, and the occasional piano, organ, or violin embellishment. This approach has resulted in a compelling body of work, often possessed of remarkable depth, but it's also become something of a stylistic straitjacket over the course of several albums. And that's the only major knock against the otherwise brilliant I'll Take Care of You, Lanegan's fourth solo album, which marks the first time it hasn't taken him four years to deliver a follow-up. Perhaps that's because there's no original material here – I'll Take Care of You applies the drifting, elegiac qualities of its predecessors to a selection of well-chosen, mostly underexposed folk, country, and blues covers.
Blues Funeral finds Mark Lanegan drawing inspiration from the past six years, which saw the former Screaming Trees front man collaborating with Belle and Sebastian's Isobel Campbell, Queens of the Stone Age and the Twilight Singers, and forming the Gutter Twins with Greg Dulli. Blues Funeral, Lanegan’s seventh solo album and second under the attention-diverting Mark Lanegan Band moniker, rings like the death knell for the singer’s early acoustic-based work, with returning producer/musician Alain Johannes (Eleven, Queens of the Stone Age) and legendary drummer Jack Irons helping Lanegan to further flesh out his favored brand of dead-slow rock.
Mark Lanegan wrote most of the songs for Phantom Radio on his phone. He’d write drum parts, add synths and guitars, and then bring the results to Alain Johannes, his frequent collaborator from Queens of the Stone Age, who built the real tracks in his West Hollywood studio. By emphasizing different heavy sonic territories, from echoes of Angelo Badalamenti (“Torn Red Heart”) to trip-hop (“The Killing Season”) and ‘80s new wave circa Echo & The Bunnymen (“Floor of the Ocean”), Lanegan has broken past the deliberately monochromatic sounds of his youth. The five-track limited-edition vinyl EP No Bells on Sunday is included.
2013 covers album from the veteran Alt-Rock singer/songwriter. Among the 12 tracks, Lanegan tackles Hall & Oates' "She's Gone", Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice", Nick Cave's "Brompton Oratory", and Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife", and more. In a statement, Lanegan described the project's emotional significance, "When I was a kid in the late sixties and early seventies, my parents and their friends would play the records of Andy Williams, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como, music with string arrangements and men singing songs that sounded sad whether they were or not. At home my folks were also listening to country music, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Vern Gosdin were some of our favorites. For a long time I've wanted to make a record that gave me the same feeling those old records did, using some of the same tunes I loved as a kid and some that I've loved as I have gotten older. This record is it, Imitations".