Soulsavers-It’s not how far you fall, it’s how hard you land

Opening with a church style organ and gospel choir ‘Revival’ lets you know the tone of this whole album. Mark Lanegan present here on eight of the ten tracks lends his superb gruffly of a voice to these vignettes of confession, love, life and fear. With a musical backdrop that’s part ‘Death in Vegas’ part ‘Orb’ and at times contains elements of Mark’s own band it could easily be seen as a companion piece to ‘Bubblegum’. But the genius of this album is in the marriage of the music and vocals, like when a band get a guest vocalist in and it just works and makes a great song, think ‘Setting sun’ with Noel Gallagher or ‘Sunday morning’ with Beth Orton. The trick pulled off here by the Soulsavers is to include Lanegan as a solo guest, everyone know his range and its no surprise that since his Screaming Trees/solo days he has popped up on record with everyone from Queens of the stone age to Isobell Campbell. His muddied and smokey tones fit the lyrics and the style so perfectly I can’t imagine anyone else being able to pull it off. ‘Paper money’ has a beat that wouldn’t seem out of place on a ‘Mark B and Blade’ record and leads us into the first instrumental ‘Ask the dust’ with its singular piano notes ringing out over swishes and swirls, feedback and interference. Next up is ‘spiritual’ and we are firmly in Spiritualized/Spaceman 3 territory as Lanegan whispers the refrain ‘Jesus I don’t want to die alone’ over and over, at five and a half minutes it’s a moving centre piece to the record. ‘Kingdom of rain’ is pure ‘Willard Grant Conspiracy’ with acoustic guitar and organ working beautifully together. ‘Through my sails’ sounds like an old piece of vinyl and the harmonies soar over the crackle. ‘Arizona bay’ is the second instrumental here that leads us in to the Indian fuzz of ‘Jesus of nothing’ with Lanegan multi-layering his voice to great effect. Lastly comes the five minute finale ‘No expectations’ a broody and haunting track that floats along with just piano and organ, faint drums can be heard slightly in the mix but its Lanegan’s voice that carries it through and after a short gap a small outro signals the end of a fascinating album. Ten songs, forty-five minutes and a great vocalist and the Soulsavers have made us a great album. It really will be interesting to see where all involved do next.

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