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    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    Come on over, turn me on


    Photo by Stefano Corso

    Sometimes, you need night songs. Lullabies gentle enough to ease you into sleep, or seductive enough to strike a different tone. Mark Lanegan and Isobel Campbell's second collection together, Sunday at Devil Dirt, is steeped in just such nighttime moods--lassitude, ache and more than a little libido. With their contrasting vocal styles, the singers ably embody all those competing desires. Lanegan, formerly of grunge asterisks Screaming Trees, sounds like a grizzled trucker coming home from a marathon drive. Campbell, once of Belle & Sebastian, opts for breathy and lusty, purring like a perfume ad. It's sandpaper against silk, the darkness nestling up against daybreak.

    As the title suggests, the album flirts with Biblical themes, but it's at its best when it sticks to more secular flesh. On one of its highlights, "Come On Over (Turn Me On)," the duo melds together to lovely effect. "Is it any wonder/ Is it any wonder/ I lay awake all night," they sing at their most needful. Between Lanegan's growl and Campbell's sigh, they really convey how deep their stirrings are, how hungrily they're awaiting their lovers' arrivals. They further build the mood with a slinky jazz-lounge piano and a sinister guitar caterwauling at the margins. It's another sharply drawn contrast that reveals how well opposites attract, and that every night's a gateway to many inviting possibilities.

    * MP3: "Come On Over (Turn Me On)" - Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan from Sunday At Devil Dirt [Buy it]

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