Let There Be A Revival!
Can you cross trip hop with gospel? How about if you did and then added the gruff, weathered baritone of Mark Lanegan to it? What you’d end up with is Soulsavers’ excellent new album It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land, a clever concoction of the hymnal and dub-influenced genres from separate sides of the pond.Following his turn with Isobel Campbell (Ballad of the Broken Seas) and fresh on the heels of his announced full-length collaboration with The Twilight Singers’ Greg Dulli in The Gutter Twins, Lanegan’s Tom Waits-style grumble nestles with ease in the methodical, textured tunes created by Soulsavers’ Rich Machin and Ian Glover. Sounding like Portishead on a midnight ride down Route 66, the tempo is patient, focusing on grooves and ambience.
“Ghosts of You And Me” bounds with a thick, near synthesized bassline, overdriven guitar feedback and Laneganâ€šÃ„Ã´s ruminations. The religious overtones persist throughout; “Paper Money” finds Lanegan rumbling “Don’t you ever leave me baby / I believe that you can save me / Heaven, just a taste / Heaven so far away,” against tremolo-laden organ and a two-woman gospel-style accompaniment for the song’s wordless chorus.
Elsewhere, on covers of Josh Haden’s “Spiritual” and Neil Young’s “Through My Sails” the spiritual content is more literal. The former is a light piano melody offset against the plea, “Jesus / Oh Jesus / I don’t wanna die alone,” and the latter features a duet with Lanegan and Bonnie “Prince” Billy on top of a lush string backdrop.
Machin and Glover have made the most of this dark-end-of-the-pew, neo-gospel aesthetic. Their production strikes an intoxicating balance of slow grooves and pitch-perfect sound design. The only shame is the unlikelihood of a follow-up, as lately Lanegan has rarely repeated collaborations. And lo, it was good. Let there be a revival!