Released in 2003, the first solo venture from Isobel Campbell – she of the forlorn, sugar-dusted voice – was hardly a radical swerve from her work with Belle & Sebastian, but its mix of alt.country-edged chamber pop and light jazz with a cinematic scope did point the way forward for her collaborative LPs with Mark Lanegan. Hawk is their third and, again, the interplay between Campbell’s sweetly hushed expression and Lanegan’s gruffly tender tones is crucial.
If their second album, Sunday at Devil Dirt, rather overstretched their light/dark shtick, then this opens up a broader vista, adding muscle and some welcome guests (fine Americana songwriter Willy Mason included). Shaking up the Nancy Sinatra/Lee Hazelwood formula are the roughnecked ‘Get Behind Me’ and the title track – a strutting jam. There’s plenty more typical fare to please fans, such as ‘To Hell & Back Again’, but spice notes in the duo’s blend have lifted its flavour.