Mark Lanegan has been rather prolific over the last few years. Straight Songs of Sorrow is an album based on his life, a soundtrack to his autobiography Sing Backwards and Weep. The songs take us through a story of rock ‘n’ roll life, or grunge ‘n’ roll. It documents his battle with hard drugs, the Seattle grunge scene he was at the centre of and his general ups and downs, all told with some humour and hope..
Vinyl Double LP £21.00 HVNLP178
180g vinyl gatefold 2LP on Heavenly.
- Includes download code
CD £10.06 HVNLP178CD
CD on Heavenly.
Limited Vinyl Double LP £26.99 HVNLP178C
Limited edition, indies only 180g crystal clear vinyl, gatefold 2LP on Heavenly.
- Coloured vinyl
- Indies only
- Limited edition
- Includes download code
I finished Mark Lanegan's autobiography, 'Sing Backwards and Weep', in two or three sittings. I can't remember the last time I read something that arresting, but I'm pretty sure at the time I still thought Theresa May was as bad as it could ever get. I wholeheartedly encourage you to read it, or better, listen to it. Hearing the stories told in Lanegan's roadworn, sorrow-sodden voice conveys the melancholy fury right at the heart of the book; I swear the man has bass guitar strings for vocal cords. I'd never even heard of Screaming Trees and was only familiar with Lanegan's wonderful 'Somebody's Knocking' album, but you don't need to even be a fan of music to enjoy this book. It's simply a fantastic story, full of devils, demons, odesseys, and angels.
I knew when going into listening to Lanegan's new album 'Straight Songs Of Sorrow' I'd spend the first paragraph talking about the majestic book so now that's out of the way, let's get down to brass tacks. 'Straight Songs Of Sorrow' is a diverse and colourful record. One of the things I loved about the book was how enthusiastic Lanegan is about the music he loves (you'll learn enthusiasm is something of a novel emotion throughout great swathes of 'Sing Backwards'), and all of this is evident on the record. It's an album that's been made by a music lover. There are drum machines, synthesizers, guest vocals, delicate finger picked guitar, lilting piano melodies, slow songs, fast songs, with genres as diverse as cold wave, americana, blues, kosmiche, IDM, and industrial.
It's a quietly kaleidoscopic album which is made all the more impressive considering Screaming Trees were (by Lanegan's own admission) one of the more pedestrian groups operating in the 1990s. Lanegan is something of a shapeshifter, and not just musically. Looking through Google Images at photos of him throughout the years, his face seems geniunely different in different phases of his life. This goes beyond just the ravages of addiction and into the strange otherworldly chameleonic transformations of David Bowie or PJ Harvey.
Lanegan's voice sounds great on 'Straight Songs Of Sorrow'. Some of the refains and cadences remind me of Randy Newman or Van Morrison. He goes into the higher registers on songs like 'Stockholm City Blues' and 'Apples From A Tree' and it's really lovely to hear. 'Daylight In The Nocturnal' reminds me of Nick Cave's 'Skeleton Tree' album at its most vulnerable, all soaring strings and glum majesty. Searing stuff.
'Straight Songs Of Sorrow' is a triumph. God bless Mark Lanegan for coming through it all.
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