Opposites attract

Cliches notwithstanding, American grunge rocker Mark Lanegan and Scottish singer Isobel Campbell really do make beautiful music together.

December 10, 2010 16:29
2 minute read.
Opposites attract.

mark lanegan and isobel campbell_521. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Mix a demure, Scottish ballad singer and a former hell-raising American grunge rocker and you get the sweet and sour sounds of Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan.

Both the 34-year-old Campbell and the 45-year-old Lanegan brought impressive resumes to their collaboration. She spent a number of years with the light and airy Scottish indie favorites Belle and Sebastian, playing cello, keyboards and occasionally singing. The hard-living Lanegan made his name as the gravelly voiced vocalist for Seattle rockers Screaming Trees and, more recently, fronting Queens of the Stone Age. When Campbell decided to go solo almost 10 years ago, someone suggested she check out Lanegan’s work.

“An old boyfriend of mine was a Screaming Trees fan and suggested I ask him to duet with me,” said Campbell in an e-mail interview this week with The Jerusalem Post that took place during the duo’s current tour that will see them arrive in Tel Aviv on December 14 for a show at The Barby Club.

Campbell and Lanegan traded some lyrics and melodies on the telephone a few times, realized there was a chemistry there, and decided to collaborate.

In a case of a gentle singer/songwriter finding her inner toughness and an unabashed macho man locating his introspective side, the two have met somewhere in the middle to produce three albums of haunting duets, ranging from acoustic ballads to melancholy and intimate rockers.

For their latest album, Hawk, the duo changed their method of recording their parts separately and spent time together in California.

“In the past, we recorded separately because we were on different continents. For Hawk we recorded everything together,” said Campbell. “I was pleased with Hawk but also exhausted. I gave it my all – recording, performing and producing. I am still exhausted now. It was a labor of love.”

It seems well worth it, since Campbell’s reflective songs powered by Lanegan’s brooding vocals provide some of the musical highlights of the year. And when the duo sings together, let’s just call it Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue heaven.

“Our voices sound so good together,” said Campbell. “We have an unspoken and inexplicable chemistry, a magical blend. That doesn’t happen with just anyone.”

And it doesn’t arrive on our shores very often, so don’t miss it Tuesday night.

December 14 at the Barby Club, Tel Aviv. Doors open at 9:30 p.m. Concert starts at 11 p.m. NIS 169

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