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On ‘Blues Funeral,’ Mark Lanegan is as dark and snarling as ever

Mark Lanegan is one of music's most formidable frontmen.

Mark Lanegan is one of music's most formidable frontmen. Standing tall, he performs his dark blues ballads with a deep, gravelly voice and soulful, low-end snarl, constantly gripping the mic stand as if he were strangling it into submission. And when it comes to interviews, he is just as intimidating. Notoriously vague, and downright frustrating to talk to, he is short in his answers, divulging as little as possible.

Known through the '90s as the singer for Screaming Trees, Lanegan has become one of the most prolific survivors to rise from the ashes of grunge. Besides his seven solo records, he's made cameos with Queens of the Stone Age, co-wrote songs with Greg Dulli and participated in unlikely collaborations with the Soulsavers and Isobel Campbell.

"They were something I really enjoyed,"?he says. "Hope-fully that will continue. It may not be the things I worked on before, but with God willing, something else will pop up."

Releasing "Blues Funeral" last month, Lanegan returns to his solo project. Eight years after the release of his previous album, his bottom-dwelling bellow sounds like he's back from the grave to tell tales of death with the delivery of a gospel song sung by a sinner. More electronic than ever, his ballads seem to turn a darker shade of blue -- bordering on black. But not to Lanegan.

"I don't know, man, I've been singing about the same stuff for 25 years now," he says.

'Funeral' party

While Lanegan's solo records have always been backed by a collection of friends, this one has a skinnier lineup.



"I made my previous record with Alain Johannes," he says. "And after that I knew I would make the next one with him also. Honestly, we really didn't need anyone but him and Jack Irons, but I had a few other people stop." Most notably Greg Dulli and Josh Homme.

 
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