STAYING IN TOUCH

Ramblin' Man EP
Label: V2
Rated: NONE
WorkNameSort: Ramblin' Man EP

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.

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