It's been some time since duets were what they used to be. Not to come off as old-fashioned and pining for the days of the ol' Victrola, but I do believe in a certain amount of personal chemistry when two people are singing to one another. It was macabre and surreal to market Hank Williams Jr. singing along to his late daddy's recordings; Natalie Cole's duet with her dad was, ahem, "unforgettable"; and who really knows in this age of technology who's actually singing their own tracks and not being pieced together from 10 different takes and pitch-corrected by machines designed to achieve musical "perfection." At the end of the day, Ashlee Simpson still looks like a horse.
Jump-starting her solo career, former Belle & Sebastian chanteuse Isobel Campbell decided to play Nancy Sinatra to former Screaming Tree/occasional Queens of the Stone Age singer Mark Lanegan's Lee Hazlewood. She's recorded an album of sublime, anachronistic pop that places Lanegan's increasingly creaky, whiskey-soaked voice alongside her own child-like wonderment: Ballad of the Broken Seas, due out next spring.
For now, we have a four-song sampler EP that features two tunes slated for the album and two outtakes, including a cover of "St. James Infirmary," best known as performed by Bobby "Blue" Bland. Most of the album was recorded by shipping files across the sea Scotland to L.A. via Internet, though the two finally met to finalize a few details. Will you be able to figure out which parts? Probably not. And that is the beauty of all this terrible technology.