Album Reviews

Mark Lanegan – Dark Mark Does Christmas 2020 – Album Review

Mark Lanegan – Dark Mark Does Christmas 2020 – Album Review
by Killian Laher

Is it too early for a Christmas album?  Back in 2012 Mark Lanegan released an EP of Christmas songs, cover versions, in fairly limited quantities.  Now in 2020, he has fleshed out the original six songs by recording four new ones to add to them.  Details are not plentiful but it seems to be mainly Mark Lanegan and Alain Johannes.  You can tell which are the older ones by how grizzled he sounded back in 2012 as compared to now.  He sounds in fine voice on traditional ballads The Cherry Tree Carol (which is Lanegan accompanied by a banjo) and Down In Yon Forest.  Both these tracks suit him very well.  O Holy Night is rendered faithfully and Lanegan pushes his voice to the extreme of his higher register.  Later, he growls his way through We Three Kings.

For the four new tracks, Lanegan contributes a pair of originals.  The first of these, A Christmas Song, is a swirling slab of dark, acoustic balladry, well up to his usual standard, featuring Greg Dulli on guitar.  For Death Drums Along The River, Lanegan lets his electronic side come to the fore, with pulsing beats, sleigh bells and weedy keyboards.  It’s a little… odd.  As for the rest of the ‘new’ material?  In The Bleak Midwinter is as old as the hills, and Lanegan’s voice sounds almost angelic as he sings rather than groans his way through this one.  On the other hand, he sounds positively sappy on the Everly Brothers’ sentimental Christmas Eve Can Kill You.

After the acapella Coventry Carol, he turns in a fine performance on the Roky Erikson track Burn The Flames.  This one works well with a twangy, surf guitar, no harm to hear this one gain a wider audience.  So this Christmas collection is neither an embarrassment nor a surprise classic.  Will look forward to his Long Hot Summer Anthems next June…

Track List:

1. The Cherry Tree Carol
2. Down In Yon Forest
3. O Holy Night
4. A Christmas Song
5. In The Bleak Midwinter
6. Death Drums Along The Winter
7. Christmas Eve Can Kill You
8. We Three Kings
9. Coventry Carol
10. Burn The Flames

O Holy Night

Categories: Album Reviews, Header, Music

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