Hawk

Studio Album by released in 2010

Hawk review

Defiling the prognoses

When Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan were just making their first steps as a duet, the future of this cooperation looked pretty dusky. Few could find the common that would unite participants of two different bands playing different types of music. She used to be a part of the indie-rock band Belle & Sebastian; and he was singer with the grunge outfit Screaming Trees. Moreover, they sing entirely differently. Therefore, in the beginning this seemed just like a desperate attempt to combine the incompatible doomed to crash. OK, let them record an album, see no sense in working together ever again, and part their ways, many would thought at that time. But they did not part their ways. Besides, within less than five years of consistent studio labors, Campbell and Lanegan have already released three CDs, none they should feel ashamed for. Of all thee, probably, the most interesting and musically proficient is the one issued in 2010 under the title Hawk.

Hawk: flaming passions hypnotizing vocals

The supporters of the duet of Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan would instinctively compare Hawk to their worthy 2008 effort named Sunday at Devil Dirt. That was the work that marked the trajectory for the vocalists to move further. Isobel brought to the table a dark sound with somewhat gothic atmosphere, while Mark spiced it with the dynamics and emotionality of hard rock. Except Hawk is faster and more passionate. Come Undone features Mark resembling a vampire or a demon as Isobel sings sensually and sexually. You Won’t Let Me Down Again brings up the motif of road and escape. The characters of the song, supported by a speedy solo from a Smashing Pumpkins guitarist, leave the past with all their unsolved problems. The instrumental background – a large space for Isobel who wrote ad produced almost all the tracks – is a set of borrowings from blues, country and folk. Generally speaking, Campbell takes the lead in the song-writing process and is the most influential figure in the project. Even if you do not count the instrumental title track, you are not going to hear Lanegan on four more songs. Among them, there are Sunrise, and To Hell And Back Again, pieces that put you into hypnosis rather with Campbell’s singing than with not music.

Hazardous quest for a new sounding

Nobody will blame Isobel Campbell for reluctance to seek diversity and novelty, but there are times when she goes too far. For example, she, probably, should not have invited the young vocalist Willy Mason to sing with her No Place To Fall. If you consider it as a single piece, separately from the rest of the set, you will find it a good attempt, but as a part of Hawk it is a song that should not be here. The voices of Lanegan and Campbell are so tightly interconnected that no outside element should break this link. Of course, the musicians were well aware of the risk they were taking when they stepped onto the unknown musical territory. Even now that the duet has released three nice studio albums, the experienced listener will discover those moments when Lanegan’s growling vocals hardly fit the country or blues surroundings. The goal to make a manifold material is certainly achieved, but what is the price of an achievement like this? Between some of the tracks there is no connection whatsoever. It sometimes seems that someone changed the CD or even the performer. However, this can and should be forgiven to the singers because they did not fear to produce an original piece of music, were not afraid to move in the direction where others even do not dare to look. With each new album the duo of Campbell and Lanegan is becoming better and better, which is what matters.