Album Review of Heavy Love by Duke Garwood.
Release Date: Feb 10, 2015
Record label: Heavenly
Genre(s): Blues, Pop/Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Modern Blues
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Duke Garwood's status as one of contemporary rock's best kept secrets was well and truly challenged last year with Black Pudding, his collaborative album with Mark Lanegan. A long standing fan, Lanegan then helped play a part in the recording of Heavy Love and has described Garwood as "one of my all-time favourite artists." In the two spare studio days after the pair completed their album in Burbank, California, Duke recorded some of these songs.
Heavy Love is Duke Garwood's fifth full-length solo album. It is a natural follow-up to Black Pudding, the collaborative album he cut with Mark Lanegan in 2012. Recorded in London and Los Angeles, Garwood self-produced the set and enlisted Lanegan and Alain Johannes from Queens of the Stone Age to mix it. Garwood plays many of the instruments himself, but gets selective assistance from friends along the way, including Johannes on various keys, backing vocalists Jehnny Beth and Johnny Hostile of Savages, and longtime friend, collaborator, and drummer Paul May.
Duke Garwood is a bluesman’s bluesman. Mark Lanegan, with whom Garwood collaborated on 2013’s Black Pudding, calls him a “musical genius”; Josh T Pearson says his songs are “as close to heaven as you can get with a guitar”. As this alt-leaning fanclub suggests, the London-based musician’s approach to the genre is not the kind of dedicated study that forbids exploration: the title track, for instance, benefits from the ghostly backing vocals of Savages’ Jehnny Beth, and some guitar work reminiscent of Tuareg band Tinariwen.
Garwood is a veteran of the margins, a singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist guest (The Orb, Savages) whose sepulchral take on things has much in common with the blues. In 2012, Garwood befriended fellow gravelly voiced traveller Mark Lanegan and collaborated with him last year. Heavy Love is Garwood’s fifth outing, recorded this time in the California desert with Lanegan and Queens of the Stone Age producer Alain Johannes on the mix; there is a new and penetrating heat haze to these reverberating songs.
If you’ve ever heard a Duke Garwood album, you’ll know what to expect from Heavy Love. Your eyebrow may be raised at a title like Disco Lights, but there’s no need to fear that the South London bluesman has suddenly developed an interest in rave. For Garwood’s fifth solo album pretty much picks up where his 2013 collaboration with Mark Lanegan, Black Pudding, left off.
It’s often said that people can be judged by the company by the company they keep, and indeed, if that’s the case, Duke Garwood’s earlier collaborations may offer a hint as to what he has in store. On the other hand, that earlier association also offsets the familiarity factor and keeps the music at arm’s length. That’s because Garwood is mostly known as Mark Lanegan’s collaborator on the latter’s Blues Funeral, an album that was seeped in gloomy ambiance and serious insurgency.
The low growl with which Duke Garwood's voice hums out of the speakers is enough to send even the brightest of souls into a shadowed soul search. It's rare when a voice alone inspires such introspection, but with his fifth studio album Heavy Love, Garwood presents psychedelic nostalgia wrapped up in a jewel case. The foundation for this album is built upon years of sundry musical endeavours.