Releases culled from offcuts of a fully fledged album tend to make for poor fare. So it is with some trepidation that we approach the Keep Me In Mind Sweetheart EP as these are the tracks that were held back from this year’s Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan collaboration Sunday At Devil Dirt.
We’re pleased to report that, with perhaps one exception, all of these songs could have appeared on Sunday At Devil Dirt and not seemed like weaker material. If you know Lanegan and Campbell’s back story then you won’t find anything here to surprise you; it’s business as usual.
For those of you unfamiliar, Lanegan is one of the most in-demand vocalists around at the moment. Having cut his teeth with Screaming Trees and some well received solo albums, he’s gone on to perform with Queens Of The Stone Age and Soulsavers, as well as forming the fantastic Gutter Twins with Afghan Whigs man Greg Dulli. His is a voice that drips a peculiar nectar that would appear to have been formed by favourable collision between cigarette tar and liquor.
His soothing growl, which leads many of these songs, is at some odds with the impossibly cute Campbell, who first came to the attention via the tweeness of Belle and Sebastian. Cute she may be, and on this EP she’s certainly quiet, there something more behind her voice. As delicate as Campbell is, she sounds as if she’s hardened from experience. As she accompanies Lanegan through Rambling Rose, there’s a definite ache of experience that lingers in the air.
Musically, there’s nothing that the pair haven’t already touched on, but that’s no great problem. The twang of Americana suits these songs and their vocals perfectly. Pain, desolation and hard drinking seem to be suggested in every note played.
Well, nearly every note. Asleep On A Sixpence suggests something more, although the first time you hear it you’ll wonder what it is until the coda of While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks makes an appearance. Pain, desolation, hard drinking and Christmas would have been out of place on Sunday Dirt earlier in the year, but right now it seems to make perfect sense.