‘With Animals’ is an analogue sort of album. Partly recorded in Joshua Tree, the desert atmosphere has seeped into its grooves, conjuring images of dust bowls and vast skies. In general, Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood’s latest collaboration is a traditional blues album, mourning lost loves and fixing broken hearts. The title track sees Lanegan retreating from human society to lick his wounds, relying on the companionship of animals to pull himself through. It’s a gravelly, mournful tune that captures the spirit of the record – that of a man grasping for a light in the darkness.
‘L.A Blue’ expresses this more overtly, hinging on the line “I keep slipping baby / Between the dark and light”. In this same vein is ‘Upon Doing Something Wrong’, a plaintive country tune about the cycle of screw ups and redemption.
So there’s a clear target audience here. Blues or country fans will appreciate the emotive guitar, raw vocals and lyrics that veer predictably from sorrowful to hopeful and back. But while ‘With Animals’ is tender and even vulnerable, the more optimistic tracks aren’t quite as dynamic as you might hope from two journeymen songwriters. An album maybe for those who, like Lanegan and Garwood, struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel.