Mark Lanegan – Imitations (Vagrant)

Mark Lanegan has spent almost thirty years now as a singing jack-of-all-trades, lending his weighty (and increasingly rough-edged) voice to a variety of projects running the stylistic gamut from electronica to folk to hard-rock, and many points between. His talents are always best displayed on his solo albums, where his introspective performances with perfectly with the backing music. Imitations is his eighth solo album, and his second to feature all covers (the first, I’ll Take Care Of You, is highly recommended). On it, Mark looks back to a handful of songs from his parents’ record collection that informed his own approach to songwriting. It includes Lanegan-ified takes on Sinatra (both Frank and Nancy, with covers of “Pretty Colors” and “You Only Live Twice”, respectively), no less than three Andy Williams songs (“Lonely Street”, “Autumn Leaves” and, the albums finest moment, a heartbreaking “Solitaire”) and a stripped down reading of “Mack The Knife” that falls right into Lanegan’s wheelhouse. The tracklist isn’t all oldies and standards though as Mark nods to more recent songs with similar themes, such as John Cale’s “I’m Not The Loving Kind” (the album’s first single), Nick Cave’s “Brompton Oratory” and Chelsea Wolfe’s “Flatlands”. He even reworks his Gutter Twins partner Greg Dulli’s “Deepest Blue” into a grizzled soul gem. Imitations’ deep introverted performances probably won’t court a huge audience (there are no Jay-Z guest spots, although celeb watchers will note that Duff McKagan plays bass on three tracks) but the truth is Lanegan’s solo albums are always moving and Imitations is no different.


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