2012 marks Mark Lanegan’s 27th year in the music business and he shows no signs of slowing down, given his many collaborations with the likes of Soulsavers, The Gutter Twins, Isobel Campbell and more, yet ‘Blues Funeral‘ is the first new album from his solo moniker, the Mark Lanegan Band since 2004’s ‘Bubblegum‘. That effort oozed swagger and cool, but ‘Blues Funeral‘, Lanegan’s seventh solo record. is a little more eclectic, still retaining ‘Bubblegum‘s verve but calling in influences from many of Lanegan’s solo and feature outings.
This broadness in scope means, in comparison to its predecessor, ‘Blues Funeral‘ has a few lengthier songs, venturing past six or seven minutes on a few occasions. It’s a bit of a slow burner, but eventually the Lanegan magic shines through and ‘Blues Funeral‘ is something of a shining record.
Starting with ‘The Gravedigger’s Song’, Lanegan’s recognizable, smoky voice soon appears and guides you through a haunting, memorable number, a feature which repeats the trick of worming into your brain. The album veers from sumptuous slower cuts like ‘Bleeding Muddy Water’ to cooler stompers like ‘Riot in my House’, which wouldn’t feel out of place on The Sopranos or CSI or something, thanks to a sassy riff from Queens of the Stone Age frontman and long time compadre Josh Homme. ‘Ode to Sad Disco’ is almost precisely that, a mellow Lanegan number over a melancholic disco-esque backbeat, while ‘Harborview Hospital’ is perhaps the one of the most beautiful songs you’ll hear all year, shimmering with echoey guitars and some incredible vocals from Lanegan yet again.
They’re just some of the highlights on another masterpiece from Lanegan and co. It might be billed as the Mark Lanegan Band, but its all about Lanegan himself, the singer. Bar the Screaming Trees, where, effective as Lanegan’s vocals then were, the success was more a group effort, his incredible voice affords him complete centre stage time and time again. Like any fine wine, he seems to get better with age, and having listened to it a few times, I can safely say this is among his finest outings. I just wish he’d allow himself centre stage a little more often, but the best vocalists often wait in the shadows – and if Lanegan does retreat from the spotlight for a while again, at least this is a timely reminder of his unique soulful power.