Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, ‘Ramblin’ Man EP’ (V2)

The Ramblin’ Man EP offers a preview of the upcoming full-length, Ballad of the Broken Seas, from Scottish vocalist Isobel Campbell of Belle and Sebastian and ex-Screaming Trees frontman/current Queens of the Stone Age sideman Mark Lanegan. Who would guess the improbable collaboration would sound like something out of the American heartland?

The four-song release offers a bittersweet mix of country and indie rock. The tracks “Come Walk With Me” and “St. James Infirmary” are gentle, dusty lullabies, while “Revolver Pt. 2” drapes the Glaswegian songbird’s haunting pipes over a pedal steel guitar. Meanwhile, the duo gives a modern take on wanderlust in the title track, a 1955 Hank Williams tune. Cracking whips back Lanegan’s growls and Campbell’s sultry coos in the weary cowboy dirge. “Some folks might say that I’m no good / That I wouldn’t settle down if I could,” sings Lanegan in a rumble evocative of Johnny Cash. “But when that open road starts to callin’ me / There’s something over the hill that I gotta see.” Ramblin’ Man makes that journey effortlessly, walking the line between grit and grace.

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