Fans of singer Mark Lanegan’s smoky baritone voice and poetic lyrics will not be disappointed with his new studio effort, Black Pudding, a collaboration record with British artist Duke Garwood. Lanegan’s long list of collaborations grows with his new album with Garwood, who has been described in British press as Lanegan’s “spiritual cousin across the Atlantic waters.”
Recorded in Burbank, CA, the album features twelve delicate tracks from the Lanegan-Garwood duo, employing Garwood’s acoustic guitar throughout most of the album that serves as the backdrop for Lanegan’s dark, whiskey-stained voice. Although Black Pudding does not feature much production, the album’s mixing by Alain Johannes (Queens of the Stone Age, Mark Lanegan Band, Eleven) exposes the raw talent of the artists and the dark beauty of their music.
The album begins with its title track, “Black Pudding,” a quiet acoustic instrumental introducing the listener to the soft nature of the album. The instrumental is followed by the track “Pentecostal,” the first song from the album released to the public in February. Although “Pentecostal” is a quiet acoustic track, it exudes strength from Lanegan’s dark vocals.
The next song, “War Memorial,” is a song seemingly influenced by Lanegan’s heroes of American folk and blues music, reminiscent of Lanegan’s cover album I’ll Take Care of You. “Mescalito,” more reminiscent of Lanegan’s latest studio album Blues Funeral, features classic Lanegan lyrics such as “I’ll rest in your shadow/Take the sorrow from my heart/Know I’m deep forever with you.”
The next track, “Sphinx,” is a mournful tune featuring a quieter, sorrowful approach from Lanegan’s vocals while “Last Rung” is a short song employing a dark piano sound. The song “Driver” has an ethereal, drifting acoustic guitar sound while “Death Rides a White Horse” grounds the listener with a dark, driving acoustic sound and moving lyrics delivered by Lanegan’s classic baritone.
“Thank You” is the album’s next song, but do not be misled by the song’s inviting title. The track is a haunting song characterized by a creepy strings section. Following this gloomy song, “Cold Molly” picks up the album’s tempo with lashing drums and a groovy bass track. The lighter feeling of this song is quickly doused by one of the album’s slowest songs, “Shade of the Sun,” which exudes a dark, bluesy feeling. The album ends as it began, featuring the instrumental track “Manchester Special.” The final instrumental showcases Garwood’s incredible guitar ability and his emotional acoustic sound.
Although Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood are featured as the primary artists of the album, listeners should not expect a high amount of vocals from Garwood, even though the British musician is an accomplished singer in his own right. Although Garwood delivers light backing vocals to some songs, Black Pudding is instead characterized by the poetic lyrics sung by the signature leathery voice of the baritone Mark Lanegan. While Lanegan’s vocals deliver a classic sound, the multi-instrumentalist Duke Garwood provides intricate and impressive guitar tracks and his presence is still felt throughout the album. Lanegan has stated that “working with [Garwood] has been one of the best experiences of my recording life.”
Those familiar with Lanegan’s solo albums will enjoy the delicate acoustic-driven sound of Black Pudding, compelled by Lanegan’s gritty vocals and Garwood’s intricate guitar work. Although the album’s tone will be familiar to fans of Lanegan’s work, Black Pudding also goes beyond the singer’s norm by experimenting with new sounds and utilizing the fresh instrumentalism from Duke Garwood. Although this is only the first collaboration album from the Lanegan-Garwood duo, fans should hope to see more music from this fantastic partnership.
Black Pudding is set for release on May 14, 2013 from Ipecac Recordings in the United States and Heavenly Recordings in the United Kingdom.