Saturday, May 9, 2015

FIRST IMPRESSION: Duke Garwood - Heavy Love

Duke Garwood has a pretty cool CV: he played guitar on UK electronica godfathers the Orb’s debut album, has provided woodwinds to folks as disparate as the Archie Bronson Project and Savages, and even worked with famed artist Shezad Dawood on a continuation of the “Dream Machine” project that the Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones started and subsequently abandoned in 1968.  Garwood is probably best known on these shores, however, for “Black Pudding”, a 2013 album he made in conjunction with Mark Lanegan (himself no stranger to left-field collaborations!).  That album pitted Lanegan’s whisky growl against Garwood’s more honeyed rasp to great effect, and it’s this record that “Heavy Love” uses as a jumping off point.

It’s easy (and reductive), to compare Garwood with Lanegan – both favor slow burn atmospherics over straight up “rocking” and share a certain low rumble in their register – but where Lanegan breathes the blues, Garwood has more of a soul man’s cadence.  Most songs find him wrapping his voice around spindly finger-picked guitar lines, delivering mantras like “make me strong, make me strong, snake honey from your tongue” like a man possessed.   Album standout, “Disco Lights”, finds him dueting with Savages’ Jehnny Beth to stunning affect – guitar lines tangling together and heading skyward, while centerpiece "Sweet Wine” could be mistaken for a lost Richard Buckner song.  “Heavy Love” is full of such delicately and finely rendered moments.  It’s an album that could only be made by someone with a musical pedigree this developed, and a nice second step for anyone who came aboard looking for the next Lanegan.  

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