SOUNDTRACK: ISOBEL CAMPBELL & MARK LANEGAN-Sunday at Devil Dirt (2010).
Sarah bought this disc for me for my birthday a few years ago. I had a hard time getting into it even thought it was supposed to be amazing. It turns out that it is amazing, but only when I’m in the right mood.
The is a disc of slow, moody songs. The closest comparison I can think of is Leonard Cohen (even though all of the songs are actually written by Isolbel Campbell)–this disc is at times more and at times less ponderous than Cohen.
The main reason I couldn’t get into it is because the first two songs are really really slow. “The Seafaring Song” is almost comically slow–as slow as Lanegan’s voice is deep. And yet there is a very nice melody (and beautiful accompaniment from Campbell). “The Raven” sounds like an old Western movie. Indeed, a lot of the disc sounds like an old Western.
“Salvation” introduces the first real up-front melody. “Back Burner” has a very old school chanting chorus which is quite a change for this album (although at 7 minutes, it does drag a bit).
“Who Built the Road” is very much like a Leonard Cohen duet (especially the La la part) while “Come On Over (Turn Me On)” is like a sexy Serge Gainsbourg duet (the album really picks up around here). “Shotgun Blues” is a big sexy blues (surprising for Campbell who sings lead) while “Keep Me in Mind, Sweetheart” is a country-style ballad.
By the time that “Sally, Don’t You Cry” comes on, I find that I have more or less had enough of the disc. But that is the last official song. My copy has five bonus tracks after two minutes of silence. But the bonus songs mix things up a bit more. “Fight Fire with Fire” is a jaunty piano based song (although it’s still pretty slow-paced). It’s funny to hear them talking about AC/DC albums in this slow piano song.
“Violin Tango” is just what the title says while “Rambling Rose, Clinging Vine” is probably the most upbeat song on the disc. Finally “Hang On” feels the most like a song from her old band Belle and Sebastian (by way of The Velvet Underground). It’s also the only one she sings solo.
So yes, I do like this album quite a lot. Lanegan is a perfect foil for Campbell’s sweet voice and songwriting. They made another disc together, maybe I’ll get that in another couple of years, too.
[READ: February 5, 2012] The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt
This was a wonderful book that Sarah brought home and told me I had to read. And I’m so glad I did.
The Scrapbook is a very simple story–it’s a biography of a lady named Frankie Pratt from the ten or so years after she gets out of high school. She went to high school in Cornish, New Hampshire in the early 1920s; that’s when this scrapbook starts. Over the decade, Frankie goes to college, gets a job in New York City, travels to Paris and then returns home. That is the basic plot, but that simple summary does a grave, grave injustice to this book.
For Preston has created a wondrous scrapbook. Each page has several images of vintage cutouts which not only accentuate the scene, they often move the action along. It feels like a genuine scrapbook of a young romantic girl in the 1920s.
Check out the picture on the right. Every page is like that–full of old photographs or ticket stubs, candy wrappers or advertisements. And a few words here and there that Frankie has typed to move the story along. It is a wondrous trip down vintage lane.
Now, as I said, the story is pretty simple (but it is befitting a scrapbook). It showcases the highlights of Frankie Pratt’s life. How she meets a man who wines her and dines her and treats her fine, until he reveals a shocking secret. How she got out of Cornish, New Hampshire and went to Vassar (I admit I found this first section a little slow, but I was so absorbed in the look of the book that I didn’t really mind).
Once she gets to Vassar though, things are much more interesting because Frankie, small town girl with no money, is introduced to the rich sophisticates who attend Vassar–New York and Boston socialites. She even rooms with one woman (who sends her down a path of debauchery and potential loss of scholarship).
Frankie longs to be a writer, and she heads to New York to work on a magazine. There she meets a man who wines her and dines her and treats her fine, until he reveals a shocking secret. (more…)
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