Mark Lanegan – Imitations (rating 3.5 out of 5)

laneganVery much in the mold of Jon Langford or Chuck Prophet, Mark Lanegan is one of those versatile artists that begs to be heard.  Whether it is as a solo artist, with his Post-Punk band The Screaming Trees, or a a duo with Belle & Sebastian chanteuse Isobel Campbell, everything he touches seems to turn to audio gold. 

His 2012 Blues Funeral, was one of the best albums of the year last year, and The Black Pudding, released earlier in 2013 is a fine record in its own right.  With Imitations, the second covers album of his career, Lanegan proves to be a song interpreter of the highest order.

Choosing, in his own eclectic way, an intoxicating mixture of contemporary songs, tried and true standards, along with songs he simply likes that are a bit on the obscure side, it all works to sonic perfection. “solitaire,” the Neil Sedaka number, is played much more sparingly and brooding than the original, and the hipster “Mack the Knife,” is a highlight with the deliberate phrasing giving the Bobby Darin tune a bit of a Tom Waits flavor.

“You Only Live Twice,” the song originally made famous by Nancy Sinatra, is much less anthemic than the movie soundtrack, but no less effective with the dramatic delivery that Langord executes with every breath, and “I’m Not the Loving Kind,” originally written by John Cale might be the strongest song in the set.

“Pretty Colors” by Chip “Wild Thing” Taylor strays away from the original than any of the other songs, and the classic “Autumn Leaves could have been left off without anyone noticing the defection.  Al in all, this is a fine set by one of our favorite artists, and as such, is worthy of your attention.