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Hawk by Isobel Campbell
Released: Aug 2010
Label: Vanguard Records
Using Mark Lanegan (Queens Of The Stone Age, Screaming Trees) as a duet partner and temperamental foil has allowed Isobel Campbell to toughen up without losing her sweet sound. Campbell casts herself as Nancy Sinatra to Lanegan's Lee Hazlewood, but she's really the auteur here, writing, producing and arranging almost everything ("Snake Song" and the heart-stopping "No Place to Fall" are Townes Van Zandt covers). Gritty instrumentals and bittersweet folk-rockers deftly complement the sin and salvation ballads. Take your pick: This gorgeous set works as both a lover's album and a breakup record.
Nick Dedina