Mark Lanegan- I’ll Take Care of You – Review

Mark Lanegan

I’ll Take Care of You (Sub Pop)
by Brian Varney

Mark Lanegan records tend to bring out the “writer” in most rock critics – reviews of his solo records lead to mawkish descriptive phrases replete with references to smoky rooms and rainstorms, whiskey and cigarettes. What this mostly reveals is how subpar most critics are as pure writers, but it also proves a point. Unlike most other records which work in this same vein (which we’ll loosely call “folk music”), Lanegan’s albums strive to (successfully) create an atmosphere of brooding solemnity. This is due largely to the deployment of several key elements: wisely chosen, cannily underplayed instrumentation, Lanegan’s deep, rich voice, and an obsession with classic folk themes like love, murder, spirituality, and alcohol. His songs are folk ballads in the classic sense, but they refuse to wallow in the “woe is me” solipsism that makes most modern folk music the bore that it is. His are songs of melancholy and resignation but never of self-pity, a balance which seems to have escaped most of the people working this territory.

I’ll Take Care of You is Lanegan’s fourth album, and it’s all covers. One of the best ways to see where an artist is coming from is to look at the songs he chooses to cover, so this album offers much insight into Lanegan’s modus operandi. Considering what I’ve said above, there aren’t really any surprises – there are stirring performances of songs by Gun Club, Fred Neil, Eddie Floyd, O.V. Wright, and Buck Owens among the ones I recognize. Though these artists cross genre lines, they all share a sense of directness and honesty, a non-denominational soulfulness. Despite the genre differences, I wouldn’t feel unusual putting a Lanegan song on a mix tape with something by Fred Neil or O.V. Wright because the depth of feeling is the same. That feeling, it would seem, is the most important thing in Mark Lanegan’s world, a point which this album goes a long way toward proving.
(1932 1st Ave. #1103 Seattle, WA 98101)