When you want to add a certain weight to your song, you call one man. For years now, Mark Lanegan has carved out a comfortable niche for himself as a voice-for –rent to a plethora of artists including Queens of the Stone Age, UNKLE and Soulsavers among many others. His voice is a one-off. Smokey, impossibly deep and always affecting, it’s almost a cheaters way of adding gravitas to any track or record.
Given these talents, an album of covers would seem long overdue and indeed, Imitations feels like it could have been released years ago. Adding weight to this theory is the track-list. For the most part shunning the contemporary (Nick Cave and The Twilight Singers notwithstanding), Lanegan instead opts for songs that were personally relevant to his musical heritage. Consequently we’re treated to classics from Sinatra (Frank and Nancy), Andy Williams and even a splash of country from Vern Gosdin. The result is timeless. Lanegan effortlessly trading his ever-present baseball cap for beat up fedoras and Stetsons as he eases through one genre to the next.
What’s notable throughout is Lanegan’s ability to complement rather than commandeer each song. Standouts ‘Brompton Oratory’ and Bobby Darin’s ‘Mack the Knife’ are great examples of this with Lanegan’s concentrated bass doing just enough to add a dark flavour to the breezy, brass standards. Though hard rock fans may be left out in the cold on this one, it really shouldn’t be passed over as a fascinating showcase of the man’s talent.