Friday, July 27, 2007

Soothing music for days that bode ill...

One morning earlier this week, and for some reason not readily apparent even to me, I felt particularly unenthusiastic about the thought of going to work. I got in the car and turned up the CD loud, somewhat forgetful of the fact that the previous morning (when I was feeling rather positive) I had changed the CDs in the auto-changer.
The CD that came on was something that I bought on a whim when it came out but had not really paid much attention to ever since.
The album in question was Ballad of The Broken Seas - Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - released in early 2006 and garnering a nomination later that year for The Mercury Prize, which was won by 'The Arctic Monkeys'.

It did the trick for me though - the day passed quickly as the few tracks I heard on the journey to work spent the day going rounded in my head and they reminded me of why I had taken a chance on this album in the first place; that was because I already owned a 2003 release called Amorino, also by Isobel Campbell. As soon as I got home that evening I listened to both in full and was blown away (again).
Ballad of The Broken Seas features an as seemingly unlikely pairing of vocalists as ever there were; her dreamy soprano voice is of the almost-not-there kind (Amorino showcases this beautifully), while his previous output - on solo albums, with Seattle' s 'Screaming Trees' or when collaborating with 'Queens of the Stone Age' - is a full and gritty roar and, at least on his solo albums, also depressingly down-beat.

It was to prove an inspired collaboration; as well as providing contrasting but also amazingly complementary vocals there is a real spark there. It, and the Mercury nomination, allowed Campbell to incorporate influences from Americana in her music and finally get away from the tag "twee-pop" that her detractors have tended to pin to her music thus far.

I bought Amorino before Ballad of The Broken Seas was released but if you are new to her music, whether the post 'Belle and Sebastian' work (she left that band in 2002) or B&S pre-2002, then I suggest you might do better to start with Ballad of The Broken Seas as it is probably more easily accessible. Amorino can be rather "strange" at times and no more so than the wonderfully weird track 'The Cat's Pyjamas'.

All this led me on a hunt for other items in my music collection that were both of a calming "chill-out" nature and that I hadn't listened to much for some time.

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