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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely mess of styles and sounds
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...
Published on March 20, 2006 by Eric Franklin

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4 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Broken indeed
On paper, it looks tantalizing: the wispy-voiced Scottish sweetie teams with the hard-living, asphalt-throated American drifter. Twee meets grunge, all doe-eyed glint and ginger-bearded grunt. But that's paper.

For all the intrigue that an Isobel Campbell/Mark Lanegan partnership elicits, the anticipated magic never materializes. Blame the disappointment on two...
Published on August 31, 2006 by Spencer G. Dickson


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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely mess of styles and sounds, March 20, 2006
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Damn., April 25, 2006
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly unusual collaboration results in a stellar album, November 4, 2006
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. The singing duties are not quite evenly divided, with Campbell seemingly content to Lanegan take lead duties, often contenting herself with singing backup on her own songs. His singing gives an edge to the songs; her singing gives them a spiritual dimension. My one complaint with the disc is that they don't sing more duets. One of my favorite songs on the disc is "(Do You Wanna) Come Walk With Me?" on which Lanegan sings to an acoustic guitar, with Campbell almost nonchalantly providing a counterpoint.

Despite Lanegan's presence and strong singing, this is very much an Isobel Campbell album. If you listen to WHISKEY FOR THE HOLY GHOST and then this one, you can't help but be struck by the enormous differences in the songwriting. The songs on both albums are equally good, but they are quite different, the ones here more easily melodious and a bit folksier. This is also just a great set of songs. It starts off strongly with "Deus Ibi Est" and then gets even stronger with "Black Mountain," with Campbell at her very finest. The best song on the disc for my money is the last cut, "The Circus is Leaving Town." Lanegan's lone writing contribution to the album is a good one, "Revolver." One of the highlights of the album, however, is one of the best covers ever of the Hank Williams's classic "Ramblin' Man." They don't cover it so much as reinterpret it, and a very good revisioning it is.

I can't imagine many Isobel Campbell fans being disappointed in this album. Some hardcore Screaming Trees or Queens of the Stone Age fans, however, might not find it to their liking (though I sincerely hope I am wrong about this). But if you just love great music in whatever form it arrives, this could well be your cup of tea.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting Yet Playful, March 31, 2006
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
4.0 out of 5 stars ride the waves, April 8, 2006
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic Duet In Its Purest Form, April 23, 2006
I dont know how anyone can get away with saying that this album is a waste of time. It is picture perfect representation of what happens when the sweetest of voices come together with one of the most chilling. Fantastic gems on this album include Revolver, the title track, and Deus Ibi Est, while of rest of the album fills in (but not "just filler") the cracks. The mix match of vocals have been an important aspect of some of the best collaborations in history. This is not the exception, this album follows the polar opposite duets of years past. I can see why people could write it off right away, but i think that if multiple listens occurred, a true music fan could understand the brilliance of the balance that these two give each other, with wonderful results.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ballad of the Broken Seas, March 24, 2006
I have to admit that I am more of a talk radio listener than a music listener and that the music I do listen to most often are the blues.......and men with gravely voices. Saying all that, I heard excerpts from this album on NPR last Saturday, and bought the CD the same day. I have not been disappointed. I had never before heard either Isobel Campbell or Mark Lanegan, but I am now a fan of both and plan to purchase more CDs by each of them to see if what I appreciate about this endeavor is indicative of their usual efforts.

The only flaw i could find is one trite cliche that jumped out at me in the song, "Ballad of the Broken Seas" ("Out of the frying pan into the fire"). That cliche brought me down to earth for a minute.........but the second time i listened i hardly noticed it. Not to attempt to be too poetic, but I found the rest of the CD to be a wonderful serendipitous olio that is a delight!

I love the contrast of the serious, mysterious "Revolver", and then the next track "Ramblin' Man" that had me movin' and groovin'.

The songs may seem to be uneven sometimes, but I find Mark Lanegan's very masculine voice combined with Isobel Campbell's delicate feminine voice both charming and intriguing and they make it all fit together.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Whiskey, Stale Smoke, and Regret, May 1, 2006
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Eric Cason (Citizen of the World!) - See all my reviews
The best way to talk about this album is the images it conjures up. It makes me want sit in the dark, drinking whiskey straight from the bottle, smoking a million cigarettes and thinking about how my baby is dead and gone. It's cheap motels and clandestine affairs, sin and salvation, disinterest and passion, joy and regret. Needless to say, it's good.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Isobel finally gets it right on a charming ode to 60's greats, March 20, 2006
Isobel's contributions to Belle & Sebastian were always favorites in my book. Despite being an excellent musician and developing songwriter, Campbell's voice frequently gets lost in the mix on her Gentle Waves side-project and on the uneven /Amorino/ album. As soon as I heard she would be collaborating with Mark Lanegan, I was sure that the production quality this time around wouldn't infringe upon her delicate voice. I was right -and- surprisingly, she produced the entire thing herself (w/ the assistance of Dave Paterson).

The /Ramblin' Man/ e.p. boasted an excellent Hank Williams cover, the stunning Nancy Sinatra-style "Revolver Pt. 2" (just as captivating as "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)) and a rendition of "St. James Infirmary Blues" with a backing track reminiscent of Bobbie Gentry's early recordings. If the latter two tracks were throwaways, what on earth would the album be like?

/Ballad of the Broken Seas/ is steeped in nostalgia, making good on all those Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazlewood comparisons with sweetness and vigor. Lanegan's voice compliments Campbell's perfectly, especially on the aforementioned "Ramblin' Man" and "Honey Child What Can I Do?" and musters plenty of drama on the opener "Deus Ibi Est". Campbell's credited with most of the instrumentation, which has (like her songwriting) improved since /Amorino/. While the album is pretty mellow, it never enters the same territory as Campbell's "This Land Flows With Milk".

The only major complaint I could see with this record relates to how much it really recalls an era of pop and folk gone by. Some might see it as unnecessary, merely retreading ancient(!?) soil, yet it can be surprisingly dirty-minded (not just in terms of 60's innuendo). Clever, lovely and often timeless, I'd still rank it as one of the year's best.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexier Than The Cover, March 28, 2006
I'm coming into this album unfamiliar with Isobel Campbell's work, being more of a Mark Lanegan/Screaming Trees fan. I never expected him to team up with Campbell and be able to make an album that is so sexy, svelte, and classy. The cover alone captures this well, in addition to having an other-wordly essence to it.

The album is far from hook-laden pop or catchy metal riffs and so it will take some time to grow on you. But like an old guitar, the music gets sweeter with the passage of time. Subtlety is the name of the game here, and good audio equipment is a must. Other reviewers have mentioned Isobel's feathery voice getting lost in other albums, and I could see how that could easily happen. Luckily, it doesn't here.

If you don't know how to listen to and enjoy classical music, you probably won't like too much on here. In that case, I would suggest expanding your musical horizons and coming back.

The title track shows the best of both worlds: Mark singing in his trademark guttural manner with Isobel chiming in and the outro consisting of a beautiful cello(?) solo over a twangy guitar. It sounds odd, but it works. Other tracks don't integrate their styles so extensively, and that's easy to understand since most of this was recorded with them on opposite sides of the Atlantic (which only makes it more impressive).

'It's Hard to Kill a Bad Thing' is a surprisingly bright guitar instrumental that plays through once and then is joined by other instrumentation for a second round. 'Revolver' is a darker sounding duet with great imagery: "And after all, don't it feel like nothing? Like walking away? Like a mouthful of rain?" 'Black Mountain' is a burning love story that showcases Isobel's unique voice. The other tracks aren't quite as intense, but still worth listening to.

One last question; what would you consider this, alt-country classical minimalism?
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Ballad Of The Broken Seas
Ballad Of The Broken Seas by Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan
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