Now: Mark Lanegan – Gargoyle
Seattle legend Mark Lanegan first career, as lead singer of the overlooked Screaming Trees, would have been enough for most. Their last few studio albums helped define the 90’s alternative sound along with Soundgarden, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Mother Love Bone. Lanegan’s solo career began with a string of outstanding psychedelic folk albums, and then interestingly, he slowly but surely began incorporating electronica, and heavy rhythms, but still maintaining his signature dark, folky feel.
Gargoyle, his latest, builds on a string of stunning albums dating back to 2012 that use electronics as a foundation. Blues Funeral, Phantom Radio, and Black Pudding are also highly recommended, along with his numerous side projects, but especially The Soul Savers, as are his rustic duet albums with Isobel Campbell. Lanegan has also contributed vocals to so many other projects, it would take pages to list them.
Then: Tim Hardin – Nine
Tim Hardin was one of the most enigmatic, and devastatingly talented folk rock singers of the 60’s and early 70’s. He was also an incredibly tragic figure, spending much of his career immersed in addiction. He wrote perhaps several of the most covered 60’s songs, “Reason To Believe”, and “If I Was A Carpenter”. Like Lanegan above, Hardin started out with an acoustic, dark folk framework, with some blues thrown in, and later added electric backing, and even spacey psychedelia.
His 1974 album Nine, is a lost classic, with several of his most interesting songs, and some nice covers. The opener “Shiloh Town” (covered by Lanegan, by the way!), is a prototypical Hardin stunner with a heavy sense of melancholy. Sadly, this would be his last studio album, although he continued to perform live until his death in 1980.