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Ballad of the Broken Seas

16 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 7, 2006
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Product Description

There's a certain "beauty & the beast" quality to the greatest male/female, singer/songwriter duos. Consider Jane Birken hooking up with Serge Gainsburg, or Nancy Sintra and Lee Hazelwood. And so it is with "Ballad of the Broken Seas", an album length collaboration between Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan.There's a similar contrast between Isobel's aching, pristine chill of a voice and Lanegan's wounded, regret-stewed burr.

While duets have been often turned into pairings that dilute both participants into toothless blobs, that's not the case here. Scottish singer Isobel Campbell, formerly of Belle & Sebastian here teams up with Mark Lanegan, formerly of Screaming Trees and collaborator with Queens of the Stone Age. It's a classic beauty and the beast alignment, with Lanegan's gruff baritone sounding like the protector of a beautiful little bird. This is a combination that's been done with success previously by the likes of Lee Hazelwood & Nancy Sinatra, and Serge Gainsbourg with Jane Birkin. The instrumental settings further underscore the gorgeously weathered timelessness of these dozen songs. This is music that straddles several centuries, updating traditions with confidence and subtle invention. --David Greenberger

1. Deus Ibi Est
2. Black Mountain
3. False Husband, The
4. Ballad Of The Broken Seas
5. Revolver
6. Ramblin' Man
7. Come Walk With Me?, (Do You Wanna)
8. Saturday's Gone
9. It's Hard To Kill A Bad Thing
10. Honey Child What Can I Do?
11. Dusty Wreath
12. Circus Is Leaving Town, The

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 7, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: V2 North America
  • ASIN: B000E6GBVW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #178,141 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Eric Franklin on March 20, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This album has been rolling on my ipod all morning long and it is really getting its claws into me. The songs are all over the place stylistically, which leaves me to wonder what album some of the other reviewers were listening to. All I can say is that this album captures some really fun music-making between two artists I never thought I'd have the chance to hear together. Gravelly Lanegan with soft Isobel make a compelling auditory delight. The only thing that keeps me from giving the album 5 stars is that it occasionally lapses, especially lyrically, to "punching up" something that would have been left better alone. There are beautiful passages ruined with a misplaced line. Byt hey, that's my opinion.

Track one, "Deus Ilbi Est", starts thumpin' with a simple beat, like feet stomping in an Irish bar, while Mark Lanegan does whiskey-fueled spoken word. Isobel sings backup. A promising album starter.

From here, the album moves into a softer passage with "Black Mountain." Isobel leads this one softly while a repetitive arpeggiated guitar plays in the background. Occasional strings punctuate the moving passages.

"The False Husband" starts out sounding like a "Lanegan spaghetti-western special" but when Isobel breathily intones the chorus, the background music changes to orchestral accompaniment. The song mashes their two styles together in an inventive and fun way. It's as if both singers brought their own song, played them together with their own bands, and just saw what would happen. You can almost hear the singers's surprised happiness at how good they sound together.

I'm not going to step through each song individually, but they're lovely. If you're a fan of the off-beat Tom Waits (just listen for the influence on "Ramblin' Man"), the messier (read true) old school country standards, and just plain incongruous music making, this is your bag.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Stargrazer on April 25, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Lanegan's rich croak and Campbell's feathery, nearly whispering voice combine over top of open arrangements of guitar, double bass, piano and glockenspiel. Though Campbell wrote a great deal of the material here, played several instruments, and produced the album, Lanegan's singing gets at least equal billing.

A high mark of collaborative albums, this one is likely to set new standards.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 4, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Although I have loved a great deal of the previous work of both Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, they are two people I never would have imagined pairing for an album. Not only that, when first learning of this album, I imagined that Lanegan was the principal songwriter for the project. In fact, she wrote nearly all of the songs on the disc, though to his credit Lanegan embraces the ones upon which he sings so marvelously that he does indeed make them sound like his own. As I said, I've loved both of these performers in other projects. Campbell, of course, is the lovely, airy female voice adorning all those incredible Belle and Sebastian songs, though she also has a slightly earlier and very find solo album, AMORINO. What that album revealed was what perhaps few suspected: though taking a backseat to the outrageously gifted Stuart Murdoch (who just might have been the finest writer in all of rock the past decade) in Belle and Sebastian, she is a significant talent in her own right). Lanegan has also produced some great solo work, especially WHISKY FOR THE HOLY GHOST, but is even better known for fronting The Screaming Trees and for his work with Queens of the Stone Age. If I were to compare what these two sound like together I might compare them to Tom Waits and Crystal Gayle on the album they did together or, ever better, the duet that Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue did on his MURDER BALLADES.

The pairing of these two talents is magical. While it would be hard to hate Isobel Campbell's singing, her voice is so soft, delicate, and ethereal that it can almost feel otherworldly after a bit. Frequently she seems to be not so much singing as whispering. Lanegan's rough, coarse, raspy baritone, on the other hand, contrasts magnificently with Campbell's.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Sally Rover on March 31, 2006
Format: Audio CD
I heard about this record on the radio during an interview with Campbell, pulled my car over to write down who it was, and bought it at the next record store I came across--first time I have ever done that. This haunting, sweet, strange, spooky and atmospheric CD restored my faith in modern music. It was as if Campbell had stolen all the favorites from my record collection--Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood, Ennio Morricone, Tom Waits, the Violent Femmes, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, then whipped them up into an amazing, diverse, concotion that was also entirely unique and unexpected. The way her voice blends with Lanegan's is fantastic--sugar and salt, sweet and tart, high and low. I am recommending this record to everyone--and now including you, dear reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Michael Khoury on April 8, 2006
Format: Audio CD
When I first heard that Isobel Campbell was doing an album with Mark Lanegan, I wasn't all that excited. I have always enjoyed Lanegan's music but I was unsure of how that would mix in with Isobel's voice. Granted I had only heard her singing with Belle & Sebastian and am unfamiliar with her solo work. But based on what I've heard on this cd, I am very interested in hearing more. The two of them belong together - especially on the infectiously groovy "Honey Child What Can I Do?" Isobel seems to be evoking more and more of a Dusty Springfield sound, which blends gorgeously with Lanegan's baritone. The interplay between their voices catches the listener instantly, and stand-outs like "Honey Child" and "Ramblinman" are also perfect rock singles. But the album refuses to simply be a collection of catchy confection and plays to the strengths of the two leads. Both know how to channel their shadows, and the dark loveliness of "Black Mountain" into "The False Husband" is one example of how the beauty in the Broken Seas is the protean interplay of dark and light.
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