Former Belle & Sebastian principal Isobel Campbell is set to unveil two new albums in the coming months.
Former Belle & Sebastian principal Isobel Campbell is set to unveil two new albums in the coming months. "Ballad of the Broken Seas" is a collaboration with Mark Lanegan that Campbell describes as in the style of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood's albums from the '60s, while the more folk-oriented "Over the Wheat and the Barley" features Smashing Pumpkins/A Perfect Circle guitarist James Iha and former Soup Dragons member Jim McCulloch.
After being introduced by a mutual friend, Campbell and Lanegan quickly began collaborating on "Broken Seas" by mailing tracks back and forth from Glasgow to Los Angeles. Campbell says she is hoping to come to the States in the near future so she and Lanegan tweak a few selections, but that the album is mostly finished.
"His voice is rough and a lot of people say mine is angelic," Campbell says of Lanegan. "It's the two sides of the coin, really. That's how we both always looked at it. It's very unlikely. It's a very feminine/masculine thing as well."
As for the sound of "Broken Seas," which features a "quite nasty" cover of Hank Williams' "Ramblin' Man" that Campbell says would fit well in a Quentin Tarantino movie, the artist offers, "I was going for an old-school kind of approach. I'd been listening a lot to the 'American Recordings' by Johnny Cash and I'm a huge, huge fan of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. It's kind of sun-bleached and psychedelic, with a little bit of folk or country."
"Over the Wheat and the Barley," however, is much more folk-centric, an approach Campbell says was an outgrowth of the orchestral nature of her 2003 album "Amorino." "There's some orchestral stuff on the Mark album, but on ['Barley'], we ditched it and stripped it back. We kept it really simple," she says.
Campbell is negotiating with a variety of labels for the release of both discs in the hope of having them available this year. She says she's also "really keen to get traveling again" and play shows in support of them.
In addition, she has recorded three songs for an EP with the Vaselines' Eugene Kelly, one of which features Iha. Campbell describes another track, "Renaissance Park Hotel," as "psychedelic and hazy; kind of baroque pop," while a third selection is "like a petty argument being made into a song."
Campbell admits that while she doesn't revisit her past Belle & Sebastian work too often, she participated in interviews for a forthcoming book about the group. "That was kind of bizarre," she says. "I was forwarded the rough copy and I read it, and it was a lot of memories. But it's all good."