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Album Review
Black Pudding

Black Pudding
by Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood


Review Date
19th June 2013
Reviewed by
Danielle Street

You know you’re on to a good thing when you hear an album for the first time and immediately want to listen to the whole thing all over again. Black Pudding, the latest offering from neo-blues man Mark Lanegan and collaborator Duke Garwood, certainly has that addictive quality.

Lanegan is well-known for starting his career in the 1980s with Washington-based group the Screaming Trees. But the post-grunge days have seen him work with a slew of musicians and release a bunch of albums to increasingly high praise - most recently being last year’s Blues Funeral. Lanegan was joined by the multi-instrumentalist Garwood for several songs on the 2012 album and the pairing has proved to be killer.

For Black Pudding the two men have produced a haunting album that is musically skeletal compared to their previous work. The record has a distinctly country twang and is bookended by Garwood’s Spanish-style guitar instrumentals, so when we first hear Lanegan’s trademark scratchy-yet-supple voice it is on the reverent second track, ‘Pentacostal’. Here he sounds echoey and distant, but as the album plays on the vocals become more intimate and gripping.

The songwriting on Black Pudding walks the line between the devil and the deep blue sea. Lanegan simultaneously seems to be praying for forgiveness and reveling in dependency with songs like ‘Mescalito’. The album really hits its stride by the time it reaches the pulsating ‘Death Rides a White Horse’, a confrontational affair that is closely shadowed by the hair-raising ‘Thank You’, which has a wonderfully dark, stringed sound.

The whole thing is short work and is finished in about 45 minutes, but despite the record’s brevity it leaves a lasting impression. The instrumentation leans on Garwood’s crystal clear guitar licks, however there are touches of percussion, a piano, and even a (somewhat ill-fitting) drum machine thrown into the mix. And although it is a beautiful combined effort, Lanegan is undoubtedly the star of the show. Often compared to legends like Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits, Black Pudding further cements the singer’s place in the halls of rock ‘n’ roll history.