Given the variety of intriguing approaches, from shanties to waltzes and rumbas to torch-songs, employed on this year's Sunday at Devil Dirt, the second album-length collaboration between Belle & Sebastian's Isobel Campbell and former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan, "Keep Me in Mind Sweetheart" is not the first track one would expect to lead off a six-track EP of outtakes.
With only acoustic guitar and Campbell's occasional harmonies behind Lanegan's sepia baritone, it's an almost painfully naked performance, bested here by several of the five other songs. "Asleep on a Sixpence" employs Tom Waits-ian gnarled sentimentality and nursery-rhyme simplicity to evoke a sailor's yearning for his girl over piano and cello. The instrumental "Violin Tango" does what it says, a phonographical forgery in which the astringent violin is set to yawning double bass and vinyl crackle; while elsewhere, pedal steel guitar tints the country number "Rambling Rose, Clinging Vine", and a soul guitar vamp carries Campbell's lead vocal on the enervated "Hang On". But "Fight Fire With Fire" is the best track, a rumination on the knots of love and hate that bind a couple in misery: "If you win, that means I lose/And I am a clown like you too".
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