Duke Garwood - Garden of Ashes

by Nathan Fidler Rating:6 Release Date:2017-02-03

Having worked so recently with Mark Lanegan, it’s going to be pretty hard for Duke Garwood to shake comparisons. But he’s not to be confined to Lanegan’s shadow, especially since Garden of Ashes is his sixth studio album since he provided the guitar for Lanegan’s Blues Funeral.

If you’ve heard the aforementioned album, you’ll probably already know what to expect (likewise if you heard their collaborative Black Pudding). Shimmering, dusty guitars nudge their way forward throughout the album, providing a hot rivulets for Garwood to croon over - albeit without quite as much whiskey and charcoal as Lanegan.

Garwood is at his best vocally on the opening ‘Coldblooded’ providing desert poetry to “make a deal, double or nothing”. There are two versions of this track on the album, though ‘Coldblooded The Return’ holds a more southern hymnal feel with prominent choral backing. That blues hymnal feeling is an important part of the picture here, building his music into something more than just a beardy man tinkering on the guitar.

‘Sleep’ feels like an alternative lullabye for when it’s so hot you can’t sleep. Beyond these handful of tracks however, there is little to really grip a listener unless you’re seeking an entire album of heatwave guitar and one man’s loose tunes on seemingly singular themes.

Despite a distinct difference in percussion, a good comparison would be Lanegan’s Bubblegum, except this album lacks the truly dark, gothic heart of that work. If you ever find yourself driving through the southern states with a hot orange sun sinking large into the horizon, this might be the perfect companion, otherwise it’s simply a nice curiosity.

Something for fans of Lanegan’s grizzled sound, or for those hankering for more soundscapes straight from the True Detective world, Duke Garwood is an acquired taste, but also an understated talent.

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