Even though he only released an album in October of last year Mark Lanegan has opened up his time capsule and unearthed some hidden treasures. After sorting through these hidden gems he’s decided to treat us with a twelve-track album featuring some of these timeless classics, aptly name Houston (Publishing Demos 2002). The entirety of the track list has been collecting dust for over a decade, and they speak of a more confusing time in his life. The songs that make up this album were recorded in 2002 when his first band The Screaming Trees were amidst a breakup and his solo career was thriving.
The tracks that have been collected to create this throwback album are full of sorrow and ultimately painful emotion. True to his singer-songwriter label they’re definitely bluesy rock and full of soul. Mark Lanegan has a voice that is incredibly raw and full of husky and raspy tones that compliment the simple nature of these songs. The entire vibe of the album is of a simpler time, the lyrics might be a bit heavy but musically its full of old school rhythms and beats that take you back to the days of vinyl records and heavy rock. Tracks like “When It’s In You (Methamphetamine Blues)”, “I’ll Go Where You Send Me” and, “A Suite For Dying Love” are a fine example of the nature of this album. They’re full of soul and lyrics that leave you thinking, these tracks are just fine examples of the art that Mark Lanegan created in the earlier days of his career.
While some people might argue that some of these songs sound unpolished, or maybe unfinished I think it’s the imperfections in them that make them so special. Any artist can leave songs on a symbolic shelf, but it takes a true musician to be able to bring them back after 13 years and release them as they are, take them or leave them. Each track is full of classic folk rock, you hear the simple guitar chords and you hear the vocals crooning over the lyrics. There is no fancy instrumental backing track, it’s just raw talent and that’s what makes a record like Houston (Publishing Demos 2002) ageless.