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Mark Lanegan – Imitations

Elise Price


You may be familiar with Mark Lanegans’ solo career, or know him as a founding member of Screaming Trees, but you will almost definitely be familiar with some of his collaborative work. His unmistakable vocals have leant themselves to Isobel Campbell, Moby, Queens of the Stone Age to name just a few. Now the voice that seems to have seen the edge of time has created an album of covers, or to be precise, Imitations.

For those who have listened to Chelsea Wolfe, Flatlands may sound recognisable – perhaps too recognisable as it seems to be more a straight cover than a re-envisioning. It is nonetheless still beautiful, and Lanegans’ vocals add a wisdom to the track that gives change to the meaning. Similarly, as the album goes from folk to country, She’s Gone is an old country song that has been reborn, even if it is reborn in mostly the same clothes it was wearing before.

Possibly one of the most well known ‘originals’ on this album, You Only Live Twice, is probably one of the most diverse from it’s origin. A basic guitar melody provides the intro and it’s a unique change of heart for the song, but one I think Lanegan fans will enjoy.

A Sinatra number now with Pretty Colours, although you wouldn’t know it as it starts with faint resemblance. Surprisingly in comparison to the album so far, I feel this track has a more upbeat than the original does, which is a welcome transition. Brompton Oratory has a nice chilled-out-summertime-jazz feel and I’m grateful for the warmth it brings.

Solitaire is one of three Andy Williams imitations on the album, it is soulful and beautiful and sad, and I love it. Lonely Street and Autumn Leaves make up the other Williams numbers – and I can’t help but feel a preference to these versions!

A classic, Mack the Knife, is transformed from Jazz to a plucky, understated folk number. I’m not the Loving Kind and Elegie Funebre are among the last tracks on the album, which have a chill but also a warmth that only Mark’s voice could produce.

At first, I was unsure why Mark Lanegan felt the need to create a ‘covers’ album, but it is the love for the people who have inspired him that shines out from the songs collected here, and I think maybe that is the reason I was looking for. I know that fans will be intrigued to see what he has conjured up, and think they will be very happy with the result, which, after creating so many different styles of music in the past, could it be the true Mark Lanegan style?