Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood - With Animals - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood - With Animals

by Kevin Orton Rating:10 Release Date:2018-08-24
Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood - With Animals
Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood - With Animals

Mark Lanegan’s second collaboration with Duke Garwood can only be described as ghostly. More than any other Lanegan project I can name, this one casts itself like a specter across the wall of an abandoned mansion. A house of ill deeds, gone down in flames. This is a shy dog of a record. It won’t come to you, you’ll have to go to it. And when you do, you’ll discover there’s far more than meets the eye. While not a million miles away from their last collaboration, Black Pudding, With Animals is even more low-key. On the surface. What lies behind its hushed, lone wolf approach, are raging seas of emotion.  

The haunting, ‘Save Me’ sets the scene, Lanegan forlornly chanting, “Come along nighttime children, sing your own dark harmony.” According to Lanegan, herein lies salvation. “Free me, save me”, he implores a voice like worn leather. If the coven has convened, redemption is found in getting your groove on.

The brooding ‘Feast To Famine’ is vintage Lanegan, “Been from feast to famine and all points in between. But I’m good for the damage and when you cut me, I bleed.” Duke Garwood’s heavily treated, atmospheric guitar lending a doomy dream-like quality to lines like, “What rolls down the window pane, could it be heaven’s rain?”

The infectious ‘My Shadow Life’ follows, a song which perfectly captures a regret and guilt that is never expressed. With the telling caveat, “In my shadow life, I love you.” A prime example of Lanegan’s prowess as a lyricist and singer. Shedding light on those hidden places we never wish to see but connect us all as imperfectly human. That’s one of the things I love about Lanegan's work, his characters are unromantically, almost embarrassingly flawed, yet holding out for some kind of redemption or release from their burdens. The gorgeous acoustic ballad, ‘Upon Doing Something Wrong’ continues in this vein. A simple apology for an unnamed wrong. One that is wisely left to the listener’s imagination. In any case, “Monday’s always raining, the fountain overflows, until I have you again.”

 ‘LA Blues’ is just what the title suggests. A dark, lonesome motel room of a song. Close on the heels is the haunting, ‘Scarlett’. Her image cutting through a hazy memory, “hungry underneath.” A moment of reverie in a grim time. Lanagen hinting at addiction and loss but never fully revealing his losing hand.

The title track begins with, “You are a murderer, girl you are a murderer”. Read through the lines and the culprit is more than likely the protagonist. “Girl you are a drug to me,” he confesses. Despite never giving too much away, the picture painted leaves little room for doubt. We are animals, living among animals. 

‘Ghost Stories’ lives up to title while ‘Spaceman’ sparsely dips into the Blues again. A scaffold lament of last words. Setting things up for the quietly powerful, ‘One Way Glass’. A portrait of reckoning and loss, empty fingers fumbling for an emotion that is, “Something lonelier than death.”

“Don’t take me away from this dream, even though it’s not what it seems,” Lanegan begs on the final track, ‘Desert Song’. A sentiment that perfectly sums up my feelings about this album. Yet, a parting note that leaves you with the vague sense of being unsatisfied and wanting more. Which is how any album worth its sweat and blood should leave you.

With Animals is further proof that Mark Lanegan’s work truly speaks to me like few others out there today. Sometimes, it feels as if he were reading my diary. If I ever kept one. Along with last year’s, Gargoyle, this is another in a great line of Mark Lanegan albums. Once this shy beast gets its hooks into you, it draws you back time and time again. Despite its pervasive twilit atmosphere, this is an animal of many moods. Its blood-stained claws haunting the halls of an abandoned house at night, just after heavy rain. A dark house, with many rooms to explore. All ghostly lonesome, yet alive with passion and yearning. This is late night listening. An insomniac’s paradise.


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