Mark Lanegan’s deep, dry resonance was what separated The Screaming Trees from the rest of the Seattle grunge scene of the early ‘90s. And when that scene bled into the rest of modern music to its last drop, that voice disappeared, too.
Soulsavers, the production team of Rich Machin and Ian Glover, found a writing partner in Lanegan beginning with its 2007 release It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land, a fruitful collaboration that has continued into this year’s Broken. Lanegan brings depth and jagged edges to the 14-track song cycle, a pained, albeit lush, progression that picks at redemption like it’s a tattered sticker corner, and is ultimately realized by vocalist Red Ghost, the performing name of Rosa Agostino. The highlights of the album, though, are found in Will Oldham (aka Bonnie “Prince” Billy), who penned “You Will Miss Me When I Burn,” as well as “Sunrise,”which he also sings. It is Oldham’s earnest that resounds, and truly saves these Soulsavers.
Broken is inventive, but splinters beneath the weight of its down-trodden mood. At times, it isn’t clear if the pieces are worth putting back together.
Broken is out now on Columbia/Sony Records.