Sleepover Show #18: Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan

We did not ask Isobel Campbell to perform one of her songs from the Belle & Sebastian days, though it was difficult to keep the request mum.  But we learned something different about the Glasgow native when we recorded her at the Middle East Downstairs: there is much power in a whisper.  Along with her frequent collaborator Mark Lanegan and a very tight backing band, Campbell honored us with acoustic versions of three songs from her work with the former member of Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age.  With their voices barely floating above the melodies, Isobel and Mark still demand your attention.  From a darkened corner, lit only by the glare of the bar lights, we captured the strains of loss, redemption, and the hard choices between home and the open path.

First, they performed Come on Over (Turn Me On), from their latest release, Hawk.  Singing about the torturous longing, the sleepless nights, and the revelation that can only be found in an embrace, you would think Isobel and Mark were miles away from each other, even though they sat only inches apart.

Free to Walk is a fantastic song recovered from the notebooks of Jeffrey Lee Pierce.  Recorded by Nick Cave and Debbie Harry as well on We are Only Riders, a compilation of similar reconfigured songs by the late lead singer of The Gun Club, the song’s brilliant abrupt ending leaves all questions unanswered.

And as if the themes of love, loss, and the open road were not enough, our final song was Salvation.  And I went out in that bad old world to roam, and I was like a stranger coming home– words from travelers of that weary road.  We were glad their paths crossed ours ever briefly.

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