Ballad of the Broken Seas

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Here's a contrast of heaven and hell, of whiskey and water. The soft, wispy vocals of former Belle and Sebastian singer Isobel Campbell and the snarling of former Screaming Trees/Queens of the Stone Age vocalist Mark Lanegan kick up a winning blend of haunting folk.

The pair's divergent vocals come off all Lee and Nancy on "What can I do?" and "(Do You Wanna) Come Walk With Me?" and their tweak of Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" unifies the steady beat of Johnny Cash and the harried vocals of Tom Waits; it's a near-perfect rehashing. "The False Husband" is reminiscent of Nick Cave's "Where the Wild Roses Grow" duet with Kylie Minogue. The comparisons could go on. But the pair's strengths lie in creating a running, often witty and smart, dialogue. Lanegan morosely inquires, "Where have you been, my darling?" as if he's impatiently awaiting her charming, soft-spoken reply in a distant moonlit window. Does it come? Know this: Campbell and Lanegan — the grunge God and the indie queen — have concocted an early entry for record of the year.

Dustin Walsh writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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