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Straight Songs of Sorrow


Artist: Mark Lanegan
Label: Heavenly Recordings
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 08 May 2020

Mark Lanegan's Straight Songs Of Sorrow, available through Heavenly Recordings, incorporates 15 songs (1hr, 21 sec) inspired by Lanegan's life story, as documented in his memoir, Sing Backwards And Weep which is published by Da Capo...

Seen more as a companion piece to the artists biography, Straight Songs of Sorrow works just as well on its own merits... even if you don't take in the lyrics. The book recounts a journey from troubled youth in eastern Washington, through his drug-stained existence amid the ’90s Seattle rock scene, to an unlikely salvation at the dawn of the 21st century. There’s death and tragedy, yet also humour and hope, thanks to the tenacity which impels its host, even at his lowest moments.

"Writing the book, I didn’t get catharsis," recounts Lanegan. "All I got was a Pandora’s box full of pain and misery. I went way in, and remembered shit I’d put away 20 years ago. But I started writing these songs the minute I was done, and I realised there was a depth of emotion because they were all linked to memories from this book. It was a relief to suddenly go back to music. Then I realized that was the gift of the book: these songs. I’m really proud of this record."

The album feels like a love letter to his fans: combining musical trace elements from his early albums with the synthesized constructs of later work. For some strange reason, and I'm not sure what that is, almost every song (in fact it may be every song) has the word "blood" worked into it.

If you've been following the artists work and have read his autobiography then you will totally get this. Those coming to it fresh will find it intriguing but won't get the same depth out of it... and I'm not sure it's strong enough to entice them to pick up either his book or previous albums.


Nick Smithson

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