From Bullymag

Jesus if this bastard doesn't have the ability to just make you weep. All the folks who dig dark balladeering from guys like Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave will want to check this album out.
Writing about the pain of life's travels is nothing new, but to have the presence, integrity, and voice to pull it off is another thing. Lanegan has that innate ability to make his songs and lyrics believable. One Way Street reminds me of Leonard Cohen's "Waiting For the Miracle" - it has that dark sadness to it with lines like:
"I drink so much sour whiskey,
I can't hardly see,
And everywhere I've been,
There's a wind that howls my name
From the one tiny sting
To that vacant fame
Oh the deafening roar
Remember that's called a one way street"
Lanegan has an amazing baritone that draws you in, which I heard for the first time on Mad Season's "Long Gone Day," and is able to conjure up the sadness and deep emotion to match his music. At the same time, I give him points for playing very stripped down American folk songs, but not in a dumb cracker way. They are all very well thought out and very well played with layers of piano, guitar, odd noises, and that heart-rending voice. "No Easy Action" almost sounds like Lanegan's take on the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly theme - haunting background harmony vocals layered over driving guitars.
The styles of each song also diverge, creating a flowing contrast throughout the album. "Don't Forget Me" is a balladeers song with lines like "When that chain starts to swing, keep in mind one thing, don't forget me." But then "Kimiko's," written with Jeffrey Lee Pierce of the Gun Club, is very peaceful song with more reflective lines such as "It's a matter of time, we always get lost, without going very far." However that's followed by "Resurrection Song" which is just plain eerie in it's overall sound and lyrical content.
It's a simple little album that depicts tales of dead-end lives that can't be altered, longing for better things. Lanegan has both the voice and song-writing skill to make it all seem brutally real. - Ken Wohlrob

From Stinkweeds Online

Mark Lanegan: few singers make darkness so much like velvet, so appealing, so tempting. Lanegan--vocalist for the under-appreciated Screaming Trees, of course--rises to new heights on Field Songs, his fifth solo effort. Treading into territory only previously traversed by bona-fide artistes like Nick Cave and Tim Buckley, Lanegan's remarkable voice spins "Field Songs" into tide pools of confessional introspection that bring on moments of chillingly lucid beauty; what one song calls "this clear blue silence/up to the Heavens that you daydream". That track,"³Resurrection Song", and several others, notably "Kimiko's Dream House", written with the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce (Gun Club) are like salving a sharp hangover by staring into a clear, swift running river. Those who have been following Lanegan's career since his Trees days know the power of his voice well---it's a deeply resonant instrument, helped along to its' present husky power by years of substance abuse, no doubt. (An friend walking into the room while I was listening to "Field Songs" thought at first that it was Tom Jones singing, which is off the mark, but a clear testimony to the muscular tone Lanegan's singing is overflowing with.) Like all of his solo outings, "Field Songs" finds Lanegan taking a foundation of wounded folk blues and building it up until it is a strange statue in the woods, alone and, come upon unexpectedly, mesmering and haunting . Longtime collaborator Mike Johnson (known for his work in Dinosaur Jr.) mixes tone colors with guitars that swim in out of the mix like a misty Northwestern rain and former Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd's understated flow with his instrument adds much to the gray chromatic scheme. "Nothing to talk about/as another summer dies", Lanegan sings in "She Done Too Much", which closes with "and not a thing in this world to do/except be alone in it". Lanegan's solo career has not produced anything as good as "Field Songs"---a record that makes being alone and reveling in a wide, dark and haunted world fabulously rewarding. -Patrick


Mark Lanegan is best known for his years as the vocalist for the Screaming Trees. However he's also been building a following for the last 10 years with solo albums that highlight his love of American folk and blues. 'Field Songs', his fifth album, continues in that vein with a collection of mournful, keening songs of love and loss.
Lanegan uses his dark husky voice to good effect, especially on standout tracks 'One Way Street' and 'Don't Forget Me', usually backed by the simplest of acoustic guitars with a few unidentifiable grungy noises or some subtle organ to add atmosphere. This is the same voice that is currently fronting Queens Of The Stone Age for their tour of barns like the Brixton Academy. More gentle and optimistic tracks such as 'Pill Hill Serenade' display a lighter side to the voice, making an effective contrast, and 'Kimiko's Dream House' is almost elegiac, with a Neil Young flavour. The title track 'Field Song' is curiously unsatisfying however and seems almost a work in progress at around 2 minutes long. For a such a sparse and deceptively simple solo album there's along list of collaborators, including Richard Johnson (Dinosaur Jr) and Ben Shepherd (Soundgarden) on guitars. The one instrumental track, 'Blues for D' features the latter: it's fabulous.
Overall, Mark Lanegan has produced a lovely album for reflective moments, though the whole doesn't quite match up to the gorgeous sweeping sound of the very first track.

Daliy Californian: BERKELEY, Calif.

Although Mark Lanegan seems to be best known as the hirsute former frontman for the now-defunct Screaming Trees, his solo efforts have been perhaps more impressive than his work with the Seattle blues rockers. His most recent solo release, Field Songs,sports a sound as lithe and stripped down as Lanegan's current 'do. Enlisting the help of buddies like Mike Johnson of Dinosaur Jr. fame and Soundgardener Ben Shepherd, Lanegan has crafted an album of tightly controlled intensity and acute insight.
Take "Kimiko's Dream House," a swaying meditation on the instability of perception, on which Lanegan croons complacently, "To make matters worse, the trains are on time/ but we're lost at the station, still lost in our minds." Co-written by Gun Club alumnus Jeffrey Lee Pierce, the song's architecture swirls with guitars, mimicking the unfixed ground of the lyrics.
Lanegan covers all moods in the disk's 12 tracks. "No Easy Action" presses forward over a locomotive drumline, verging on the anthemic. "Low" offers up a lovely and -- dare we say it? -- hopeful reflection on a breakup. "Blues for D," a fragile instrumental piece, showcases Shepherd's guitar work.
On the album's haunting opening track, Lanegan growls, in a voice one part Tom Waits and one part Nick Cave, "Stars and moon are where they're supposed to be/ but there's a strange electric light that falls so close to me." These lines encapsulate the mood of the album as a whole: Lanegan has called his record Field Songs, and there is a folkish, sittin'-on-the-porch-tellin'-tales quality to the songs, but always there is menace -- in the screech of feedback lurking just beneath gorgeous acoustic guitars, in the Bad Seeds delivery, in the overarching air of resignation. As on 1994's Whisky for the Holy Ghost, Lanegan's songs hang between some sweet heaven and a present and undeniable hell.


Knowing Lanegan only from his former days as frontman for the Screaming Trees, I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by this disc: the finger-picked acoustic guitar is a pleasent blend of Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, though he is not afraid to bust out a full electric band, complete with strings on some of the heavier numbers.

As a solo artist, former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan has traded dimly lit nightclubs for the gravelly back roads of rural Americana, combing the landscape for a new folk music to call his own. If "Field Songs" is any indication, he's nearly found it. The song "No Easy Action" opens up Lanegan's usually constrained atmospherics with Middle Eastern wails, evoking simmering menace. Short numbers like "Field Song," "Low" and "She Done Too Much" are jagged briars dipped in the same country, folk and blues influences that informed his covers disc from 2000, "I'll Take Care of You." Lanegan has fine-tuned his bourbon-and-cigarettes rasp into a spectral baritone capable of powerful emotional deliverance. He needs only to let the whisper build to a scream to fully realize the haunting potential of his material. --Kevin Forest Moreau

From Time Off

The fifth solo album from the former Screaming Trees frontman (counting his covers album I’ll Take Care Of You), Field Songs finds Mark Lanegan further exploring his roots interests with longtime collaborator Mike Johnson (Dinosaur Jr.).
Soundgarden’s Ben Shepherd also figures heavily in the mix (on electric and acoustic guitars, bass and lap steel), co-writing the album’s sole instrumental track, ‘Blues For D’. Another shared credit of note is the Hammond-soaked ‘Kimiko’s Dream House’ with the Gun Club’s Jeffrey Lee Pierce.
As well as the tunes, it’s Lanegan’s rich, expressive drawl – desperately rough in the upbeat ‘Don’t Forget Me’ and beautifully resonating in the reflective ‘Resurrection Song’ and ‘Field Song’ – and his consistently superb way with words that mark this record as a great one. And while there’s a commonality with his others in terms of its tragic air, what’s best about Field Songs is its sense of resolution. *****(Eileen Dick)

From Net Rhythms

Former frontman of Seattle's Screaming Trees and currently to be found providing a helping live hand with Queens of the Stone Age, Lanegan's latest solo outing is more likely to see him lined up along the likes of Cohen, Cave. Mark Eitzel and The Walkabouts with its contemplative, melancholic, dark American Gothic moods. His is a deep dark mournful voice riding a ghost horse through a sun-baked dust desert full of songs of damnation, loss and redemption, imbuing them with a sense of aching beauty. The haunting One Way Street instantly sets the quality level, the atmospheric instrumental Blues For D with its delicate guitar work tracery underlines his ability on the six strings while the title track wouldn't sound out of place on Cave's Murder Ballads, it and the superlative Pill Hill Serenade likely to rank among the finest of the year.


Time can only tell for sure, but it's pretty safe to assume that the break-up of the Screaming Trees was the best thing to happen to both Mark Lanegan and music fans. Don't get me wrong: I loved the Trees' brand of melodic hard rock. The fact that Sweet Oblivion, the Trees' flawless 1992 record, wasn't a quadruple platinum victor from the great Seattle record label race remains an injustice.
Luckily, without the drinking, drugging and constant in-fighting with the portly and volatile Conner brothers (his former Trees band mates), Mark Lanegan has summoned his creative powers for a collection of fantastic solo recordings.
Field Songs is Lanegan's finest hour since Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, full of sparse guitars and subtle touches. The album serves up everything from feedback-laden acoustic blues ("One Way Street") to eerie love songs ("Miracle") and delicate folk ("Kimiko's Dream House"). A former girlfriend of mine once said that Mark Lanegan has a voice like the devil. Field Songs is the sound of that devil coming to terms and repenting his sins.
Just check out the lyrics of "Ressurection Song": "Day, end of day/ Each hanging spiral/ What do you make of this clear blue silence/ Now that the engine driver/ has grown to be a deep sea diver/ and the street has got no end/ Better keep your heart strong, little friend." The Conner brothers had better keep nimble - Mark Lanegan isn't showing any signs of weakness these days. (Dylan Gaughan)

Dublin Event Guide

His voice rugged with worry and whiskey, Mark Lanegan is nothing if not convincing. The fifth solo album from 'the vocalist with The Screaming Trees' (as, unfortunately, he seems forever destined to be known), Field songs is the authentic sound of desolation, Americana-style. Not quite country, and certainly not folk, blues, soul or rock, though containing elements of each, these twelve songs are drastic, dramatic evocations of dreams gone sour and the disappointment of hard knocks become everyday reality. Not only does Lanegan possess an arrestingly lived-in singing voice, he also has the ability to write compelling lyrical narratives and songs that transcend narrow generic boundaries. Neither stunningly original not tediously derivative, but possessed of a superior presonal grace, his music occupies a space that is at once familiar and unsettling. Take 'Kimiko's Dream House', for example. Co-written with Jeffrey Lee pierce, on one level it is a standard-issue countrified waltz, on another, a twisting, beautifully lugubrious personal lament demanding to be heard repeatedly. Similarly for almost every other Field Song here. Together with regular collaborators Mike Johnson (Dinosaur Jr.) and ben Shepherd (Soundgarden), along with a host of guests, Lanegan has shaped an album that seems conventional at first but which reveals more on each listen. A pleasingly subtle production that toys with convention before discarding it in favour of the primacy of the songs themselves, Field Songs is enticing, mesmeric nd starkly alluring. Will this be the album to transport him from the arid plains of critical acclaim and commercial ignominy? Let's hope so. - Lee Casey

The Independent

"Have you ever been skeleton low?" asks Mark Lanegan on this, his fifth solo album, and one which leaves you in little doubt that he himself certainly has. Fifteen years fronting Seattle grunge crew Screaming Trees left Lanegan with a struggle against booze and drug addiction ­ and, more happily, one of the most enviable voices in modern rock music, a warm, husky baritone marinated in whiskey and toasted to temporary perfection by three packs of unfiltered a day. Blending the weary resignation of Mark Eitzel with the honeyed languor of Tim Buckley, it enabled him to contribute the standout track ("Café") to last year's Buckley tribute Sing a Song for You, and now lends a resonant authenticity to these Field Songs. Lanegan's solo style hovers around the confessional end of rootsy alt.rock, shading over into something akin to the third Velvet Underground album on "Kimiko's Dream House". But whether he's bringing a menacing maturity to the low-key Tex-Mex flavour of "Don't Forget Me", surfing the swirling mellotron strings of "No Easy Action", or inscribing his testimony over the patina of eerie creakings and scrapings in "One Way Street", there's always a sense that he's trying desperately to shake off the hellhound on his trail ­ that although "The stars and the moon are where they're supposed to be", Lanegan's still mesmerised, trapped by "a psychotropic light", be it love or addiction. Highly recommended.

Uncut Magazine

With 1999's cover version collection 'I'll Take Care Of You', Mark Lanegan dug out the roots of his blue and battered music. Field Songs clearly shows that rich, loamy heritage feeding into his solo work - these 12 songs slowly shift through the rustic doo-wop of Pill Hill Serenade, the snake-milking Bible-tent preaching of Don't Forget Me and the country distortions of One Way Street. It's not just Lanegan's voice, narrating his sad and sinister tales with subterranean gravitas, that's deep: Field Songs is profound in wisdom and emotion.

No Depression

Mark Lanegan is what the late Bill Hicks would've called a "six-lighters-a-day man," sounding not only like he smokes cigarettes by the truckload, but eats the ashtrays too. When coupled with the heavy psychedelia of his former band the Screaming Trees, his ocean-deep, molasses-thick baritone resulted in sonic assaults of seismic proportions.
However, his solo work has ploughed a very different furrow of bible-black backwoods folk and whiskey-soaked blues, a course from which Field Songs, his fifthe release under his own name, shows no sign of straying.
Opening track "One Way Street", with its brushed drums, woozy reverb and flamenco guitar, sounds like procession music for a sweltering Mexican festival of the dead, while "No Easy Action", with its stomping Middle Eastern Vibe, is a dead ringer for Love of Life-era Swans.
Its an album full of doomed gothic romance, pharmaceutical and drunken reverie, and blurry, sepia snapshots of friends and lovers long since gone, almost every track shot though with a quietly murderous malevolence.
On "Miracle", when Lanegan sings, "I need someone for my plaything," he makes it seem less like a heartfelt plea than a statement of devilish intent. Meanwhile, on "Low", with his dust-blown crooning backed by a forlorn Hammond organ, Lanegan manages to sound utterly heroic yet so completely lost, all at the same time.
Short of a free crate of sourmash and a personal bedtime lullaby from that angel of anhedonia herself, Chan Marshall, you'll be pressed to find anything more tempting than Field Songs all year.
-Nathan Bevan No Depression Magazine

Eye Magazine

Mark Lanegan
Field Songs
Sub Pop *** (out of 5)

With the Screaming Trees finally put to rest, two promising ventures may bear fruit with increasing regularity: drummer Barrett Martin's Tuatara project, and Mark Lanegan's elegant and haunting solo work. Following 1999's magnificent all-covers "I'll take care of You", "Field Songs" is an impecable collection of performances that overshadow the unfortunately average songwriting. Lanegan's vocal presence is so towering that he could probably get away with singing the grunge songbook unplugged, and occasionally here he doesn't have to (No Easy Action and Resurrection Song). But charisma alone doesn't carry an entire album. Michael Barclay

The Perfect Vision

Former Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan has assembled quite a streak – four successive albums that aren’t just good, but great. With a whiskey-soaked, nicotine-stained, low-register voice that’s capable of both haunting and mourning, he’s one of a few active artists who sing folk and blues music convincingly. Many claim to perform folk music, but rarely do they fully inhabit the strange worlds and twisted minds of the characters about which they sing. Lanegan does, and the music magically comes alive. His previous record, I’ll Take Care of You, an album of interpretations, won The Absolute Sound’s Golden Ear Award for sonic and musical excellence. Lanegan’s newest solo effort, the aptly titled Field Songs, is the fifth chapter in a continuing line of mysterious works that bind Old West barroom piano shuffles, droning acoustic blues sketches, ghostly folk tales, and salvation hymns. Though his 1990 debut had power and crunch, Lanegan has since traveled a slower, tranquil route. Selections like "Kimiko’s Dream House" and "One Way Street" transport listeners to time-neglected lands, while "Pill Hill Serenade" and "Resurrection Song" bring personalized testaments of heartache and despondency to our neighborhood’s front porch. Like the otherworldly folk and American-roots-music greats before him (Dock Boggs, Uncle Dave Macon), Lanegan is at once a torch singer, blues rattler, and preacher. His vocal delivery and co-authored lyrics have a sanctified, no-bullshit sensibility that gives complete credibility to the music, and the artists themselves. All five of Lanegan’s recordings transcend any need of marketing or artificial hype. The songs simply exist, and function as a breathing organism that’s firmly anchored by Lanegan’s smoky vocals wafting across simple, carefully considered musical arrangements of mostly acoustic guitar, bass, accented electric guitar, and lightly brushed percussion. It’s an honest, undisguised approach that most wouldn’t dare attempt. To appreciate Lanegan’s natural disposition and songwriting, I think back to an Eighties-era Bob Dylan, when, having momentarily lost his confidence in the decade, flanked himself with gospel singers who drowned out and masked his shortfalls. Later, Dylan did admit to this – the decision remains one of his worst; the downside of being a natural is that when your abilities fail you, there’s no place to run and hide. Lanegan’s directness is from the same cloth – naked and scarred, pure and evocative, his voice is there for the taking. If it’s a great singer and song interpreter you want to hear, look no further. The album has inconsistent sonics in that some songs are more detailed, and livelier sounding than others. Overall, the production is average, though I’ll Take Care Of You doesn’t have these song-to-song differences. On a two of Field Songs’ tracks, even the vocals are foggy – a big no-no. Lanegan’s third record, Scraps at Midnight (review, The Absolute Sound, Issue 116), remains the best sonic choice, with wonderful balance and forward presentation. I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it again here – Lanegan would be my first choice to see in an intimate venue. And I’m happy to report, that for the first time ever, he will mount a short tour this summer. Travel if you must, but don’t miss him.
-Bob Gendron
Mark Lanegan – Field Songs

When I was in college, it was a virtual certainty that two CDs would be a part of every collection you happened to peruse. The first was Steve Miller's Greatest Hits. The second was the soundtrack to the pre-Jerry McGuire, post-Say Anything Cameron Crowe film “Singles.” One of the highlights on the Singles soundtrack was the Screaming Trees' “I Nearly Lost You.” The Screaming Trees are gone, but lead singer Mark Lanegan is out on his own. After a series of critically acclaimed solo efforts, his latest CD, “Field Songs,” is something very special as well. Field Songs is mellow and mid-to-slow tempo from start to finish, while Lanegan explores various musical styles and demonstrates his vocal prowess on levels that take him from alternately sounding like Johnny Cash, Chris Isaak, Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and even Robert Plant. While nonetheless remaining distinctly Mark Lanegan, that ain't bad company to keep. “One Way Street” is the somber, Mariachi opener on Field Songs. Lanegan's voice, tinted by Marlboros and a bottle of Jack, croons gently over a modest guitar and piano melody that could just as easily be found on a Buena Vista Social Club CD. The faint groans and wheezes of guitar feedback provide an atmospheric backdrop. “No Easy Action” is about as close to rocking as Lanegan gets on Field Songs, and he doesn't waste any time making it memorable. The Arabic-flavored instrumentation and backing vocals swirl and twist effortlessly under Lanegan's gravelly voice before slowly winding down to a slow, drugged-out stomp. “Pill Street Seranade” finds Lanegan softly raising his voice an octave with a tune similar to the King on “Love me Tender,” with a Hammond organ providing the sweet melody. Led Zeppelin would be proud to have recorded “Resurrection Song” as a companion piece to the “Battle of Evermore” or “The Rain Song,” while the mid-tempo shuffle of “Don't' Forget Me” and “Field Song” seems perfectly destined to end up on a Tarantino soundtrack. The list of players on Field Songs reads like the roster of a Seattle halfway house for rock stars. Lanegan, now sober after a few bouts with a few chemicals, is joined on the majority of the CD by former Dinosaur Jr. guitarist Mike Johnson and former Soundgarden and March of Crimes bassist Ben Shephard. Other familiar faces from the Seattle music scene pop up here and there. Even former Guns and Roses bassist Duff McKagan makes a brief appearance, playing the drums on the CD's final track, “Fix.” Lanegan has no pretensions about making you happy with Field Songs. As one of the survivors of the grunge era, he's still got some angst in him. Fortunately, with a voice that simply bores into you and won't let go, along with his willingness and talent to dabble in various forms of music, Lanegan shows that while grunge may be dead, he's doing quite well, thank you very much. It's tough to call Field Songs a rock CD… and it's not really folk… or country or anything else. What it is, though, is extremely good music. SubPop Records released Field Songs in May. If SubPop rings a bell, it's probably because they were original label for both Nirvana and Soundgarden, and they continue to hold a full stable of artists.

That Which Didn't Sink
Mark Lanegan: Field Songs (Sub Pop, 2001) Rating: 13/20

The ex-Screaming Trees singer's fifth solo album dips further into the subdued, bluesy territory he has mined since his band's demise. "No Easy Action," a surging rumble of mellotron and keening melisma, is the only true rocker -- otherwise, Lanegan croons world-weary laments over simple lines of acoustic guitar and piano, typified by "Pill Hill Serenade," "Kimiko's Dream House" (co-written with the Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce) and the haunting "One Way Street." InsiderOne Mark Lanegan, Field Songs (Sub Pop) With the warm breeze caressing your temple, you float high across a summer's night sky dotted by the galaxies and their reflections. You stream peacefully through the soft mix of oxygen, condensation and darkness. Detached but inquisitive, you watch from above as the world's story passes by as if in slow motion. Feeling your separation from it, you simultaneously smile and cry. You have no desire to return. And, with this, you feel strangely at ease — and at peace. Listening to the intensely dreamlike Field Songs feels much the same. Like an opportunity to escape life's trivial qualities and see them from a place where they've lost meaning (Ha!). Like a magic carpet, the album whisks the listener to a carefree land far, far away, where your emotions are centered and understood. Former Screaming Trees frontman Lanegan's singing is evocative and moving. The music is intricate and exotic, delicate and soothing. The inventive arrangements keep the sound fresh from song to song. "No Easy Action" is made ghostly with the beautiful Indian-influenced cries of a woman layered in the background. The lullaby "Pill Hill Serenade" soothes with a music box-like melody and whistling organ. With dueling acoustic guitars and a heart-wrenching solo, "Low" is dark and repentant: "Too dark for finding my ground/ Now trees shiver and sway/ Have you ever seen something go down?/ To keep in mind all of your days/ Tell her I want to say goodbye/ For I was dead and gone/ Tell her I didn't want to lie/ Left you well enough alone." This dark, glum-folk collection feels like the most alluring opportunity for escape, like it's carving out a black hole in the wall of reality and inviting you through, — Jenny Tatone

Chart Attack
MARK LANEGAN Field Songs (Sub Pop/Warner)

The former Screaming Trees vocalist really shows where his heart lies on this one. Wielding 12 tracks that echo the best of American folk and rock, Lanegan weaves beautiful acoustic webs that evoke images of sleeping under the stars with the campfire dying at your feet. Lanegan's latest material is well thought out and tracks like "No Easy Action" and "Don't Forget Me" mix his gravelly voice with tasteful, delicate accompaniment that may be quiet, but is never boring. Lanegan has enlisted a massive amount of guests - most namely Duff McKagen and former Soundgarden rumbler Ben Shepherd that aid him in creating a most enjoyable and varied release that's solid from start to finish.
Tim Melton

Mark Lanegan, "Field Songs"

The former lead singer of the Screaming Trees returns on this, his fifth solo release overall, with a set that blows all his previous work away. This time, Lanegan's main partner in crime is former Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd, giving the release a sort of "Return of the Grunge Masters" air. Fortunately, that doesn't get reflected in the songs, and Shepherd doesn't take the mic much — as he has in Hater and on one track of Soundgarden's "Superunknown," both of which I'll pass on every chance I get. The songs are dark, moody, and dare I say Leonard Cohen-esque, which is always a good thing in my estimation. The voice is what does it. Mark Arm recently made the comment that he'd go so far as to have a team of surgeons hold down Lanegan just so they could try a throat transplant, of which Arm would be the beneficiary. That's a bold statement in and of itself, as Lanegan could easily wake the dead or woo the ladies with his gritty, spooky crooning. All in all, the release is an amazing growth turn for Lanegan, as the songwriting, lyrics, and melodies are awe-inspiring. The only complaint I might have is acutally a bit of a tip of the hat: the album has some of the best chances for misheard lyrics of any I've heard. And isn't always the great artists who are misunderstood ("Excuse me while I kiss this guy," anyone?). On the opening track, "One Way Street," I could swear Lanegan was saying "Can't get a dog without crying" — he's really saying "Can't get it down without crying," apparently. Does it detract from the power of this collection? Not even close. This release is just the latest in a trend of similar artists leaving their old sounds for a more subdued, darker tinge — except Lanegan's been doing it all along. This time, it's clear he'll only get better. - Rob Devlin

LANEGAN, MARK Field Songs (Sub Pop) cd 15.98

Fifth solo album from Ex-Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan and he just keeps geting better. Dark and smoky, evocative and atmospheric. Slow, whiskey soaked ballads with a country tinge. With a beautifully dreamy and washed out (but still crystal clear) production, melancholy and so beautiful. With a handful of guests: Mike johnson (longtime Lanegan collaborator), Ben Shepherd (Soundgarden), Brett Netson (Built To Spill), and Duff McKagan (Guns and Roses!?).

Newtimes LA
Mark Lanegan Field Songs (Sub Pop)
By Steven Mirkin

Usually when a singer goes off to do a solo project, it's either because of "creative differences" or a "need to express myself away from the band." In both cases, this can be translated as "I'm sick and tired of sharing credit with these bozos -- I'm the real creative force in this band." All too often, the result is a less-distinctive version of the band's albums made with studio hacks or a big-name producer (say, Don Was or Mitchell Froom). Mark Lanegan is different. His two solo albums were miles away from the Screaming Trees, revealing a sparse, thoughtful singer-songwriter underneath the angsty, Zeppelinesque screeds of his former band. The title of his new album, Field Songs, would lead you to believe that it will be even sparser than The Winding Sheet or Whiskey for the Holy Ghost. Surprisingly, it's the lushest sounding of the three. Which is not to say it's overproduced. At the center of each of the songs are Lanegan's rough-hewn compositions and his tundra-cool voice. The arrangements -- a well-placed treated guitar here, a tumbleweed mellotron there -- sonically echo the beautiful losers about whom Lanegan sings, displaced loners who know the "stars and skies are where they're supposed to be" but find themselves going the wrong way on a one-way street. He's at his best on hushed, quiescent ballads like "Kimiko's Dream House" or flinty atmospherics such as "Resurrection Song" or "Miracles." Field Songs has the worked-in comfort of an old pair of Levi's. Best listened to as the sun goes down with the first beer of the night cooling your hand, its creased, leathery charms feel earned.

From Q Magazine
Mark Lanegan - Field Songs

Welcome return for the gravelly singer-songwriter of Screaming Trees fame. Think: grunge generation Steve Earle. If Mark Lanegan possessed the poster-boy looks of Eddie Vedder rather than resembling a workmate of Roseanne's John Goodman, then his songs might have brought him more than just the respect of critics and a small if committed fanbase. Still best known for fronting Seattle's Screaming Trees, Lanegan may well be about to cast off the shadow of his old combo with Field Songs, an album which shimmers with creativity, conviction and depth. The contemplative One Way Street and Blues For D are among the finest Lanegan has ever written, but Field Songs' true resonance comes in a vocal performance thick with gravelly conviction. Much like Steve Earle or even Leonard Cohen, he has the talent to transform life's disappointments and regrets into a work of real wonder and beauty. Rating **** Reviewed by Ian Winwood

From The Irish Times: (4 stars out of 5)

Life is no bowl of cherries for Mr Lanegan. Field Songs chronicles another miserable year in the life of the former Screaming Trees frontman. And if pain pays, then Mark Lanegan is due a large cheque because this collection - his fifth solo album - finds him chewing over the bum hand life has dealt him. His big, regret-filled smoky voice, which is erdolent of another moaner - Chris Rea - serves him well in this mission, swanning over the folk/bluesy melodies and generally conveying a mood of bitter resignation. His is aided and abetted by a fine band and a production which sets just the right tone. And the songs are pretty good too, not least the opening One Way Street, the beautiful Kimiko's Dream and really any of the other remaining tracks, including the instrumental Blues For D.
Joe Breen

From Independent Mind

Mark Lanegan - Field Songs
A month ago, if you'd played this album for me and asked me to name the band that Lanegan used to be in, I couldn't have done it. You see, until about 3 or 4 weeks ago, I really didn't remember much about the members of the Screaming Trees except that the guitarist and bassist were a little overweight and they were brothers. I have subsequently been reminded that the singer was named Mark Lanegan. And I have been informed that this is the same Mark Lanegan who has been releasing solo albums full of bluesy, introspective, acoustic songs for about a decade now.
In case you don't remember them, the Screaming Trees were a sort of psychedelic hard rock band from Seattle that started up in the mid-80's and continued through the mid-90's. Although they never reached the popularity or record sales of the next wave of bands (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden) they helped define the Seattle "grunge" scene that you probably noticed dominating popular music five or ten years ago. They didn't play bluesy, introspective, acoustic songs.
Lanegan's latest solo record is called Field Songs. As I mentioned it's a bluesy, introspective, primarily-acoustic record. The songs are dark waltzes, sad ballads reminiscent of artists like Nick Cave or Leonard Cohen's soundtrack to McCabe & Mrs. Miller. They deal with tough decisions and their aftermath, solitude, human struggle and pain. The production is very strong. The guitars and piano are warm, the drums are understated, noises and echoes swirl and build in the background, filling spaces and darkening the edges. Lanegan's voice is put front and center to carry the songs. He's got a road-weary, whiskey-soaked voice that kind of sounds like Tom Waits in the late-70's, when he could still carry a tune. It's an aged scratchiness that is perfect for singing the blues.
While the songs sometimes suffer from predictable and repetitive structures, Lanegan's voice does, indeed, carry the record beyond. The music serves as a backdrop; Lanegan does the rest.
Field Songs is really a very sad album. Good for cold, rainy nights. Good for the dumped. Good for wallowing in your depravity. It's not something you'll probably want to listen to every day, without being in a pretty bad mood, but it's good to have some records like this around, just in case.

From kexp FM

Mark Lanegan - Field Songs (Sub Pop)
The fifth solo album from the former Screaming Trees vocalist is another fine outing of moody rock ballads, pairing his dusky, forlorn vocals with evocative accompaniment that expands Lanegan's musical world with a variety of subtle touches

From Pitchfork

In 1997, nearly every critic in the country lauded Smithsonian/Folkways' re-release of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. Originally released in 1952, the three-volume set-- a fourth volume was added in 2000-- provides an awesome, sweeping perspective of the foundation of American music. Then, in 1999, came Moby's Play, which sampled Alan Lomax-era field blues; by 2000, the word "ubiquity" had become an understatement.
And here in 2001, the soundtrack to the Coen brothers' southern romp through the Odyssey, O Brother Where Art Thou, has reached unlikely heights, peaking at #13 on the Billboard 200. I think it's safe to say that American roots music-- that is, pre-WWII country, blues, and folk, which were often indiscernible-- is more popular than it's been for at least 30 years, if not since the era of its creation. And it probably won't get any more popular than this. Smith's anthology is collecting dust in East Village apartments. O Brother, Where Art Thou has slipped out of the Top 20, albeit gracefully. And, alas, all 18 commercially licensed tracks from Moby's album are evaporating from our collective consciousness. (At last!) This minor boom helped lift some artists, like Emmylou Harris and Ramblin' Jack Elliott back into the spotlight. Still, there are countless more artists-- Eric Von Schmidt and Stefan Grossman, to name a couple-- who should've received attention for their old-time talents, but never did.
But who would have thought, ten years ago, that the lead singer of the Screaming Trees would be one of the neglected? Mark Lanegan, the solo artist, has written music with his feet planted firmly in aged American soil. Over the course of four solo albums since 1990, his gritty blues, country and folk has become progressively more roots-oriented, not to mention more sophisticated.
Lanegan's determination to hone his sound culminated with 1998's I'll Take Care of You, a covers album that ranged from Buck Owens- to Jeffrey Lee Pierce-penned songs, yet managed to unify all of them. Field Songs is, fortunately for us, more of the same, except that Lanegan's back to writing original material. This is sub-pop in the truest sense: it's music made in the pop/rock era with influences from before the era was even conceived.
But his sonic palette has also widened. Just seconds into the opener, "One Way Track," after the snare-heavy percussion and soft electric and acoustic guitars shuffle in, the ears are pricked by low-decibel dissonance: echoing guitar scratches like high-pitched thunder or machine-gun fire; a twinkling piano like rain on a corrugated tin roof; buzzing like a recalcitrant computer. But none of it invades the space needed for his husky voice and lines like, "The stars and the moon aren't where they're supposed to be/ But a strange electric light falls so close to me."
The next track, "No Easy Action," opens with female ahhh's before breaking into a whir- and acoustic-fueled tear through blues romps, gospel choirs, and rock psychedelics. As always, Lanegan's voice is as compellingly loud and high-pitched as it is low and smoky; but accompanied, as he is during this moment, by the almost tribal voices of the women, his music reaches an uplifting epiphany.
And then there's the utterly different epiphany reached on "Field Song," where soft, reverberated chords give way to nearly a minute of crashing guitars. But on most of these tracks, the touches are very subtle: rain in the background of the beautiful, understated instrumental, "Blues for D"; distant guitars crackling like falling timbers on "Fix"; buzzing tolls ringing over the hills on "She's Done Too Much." While these additions have prevented Lanegan from being straight-jacketed by his roots influences, as some fans and critics feared, those addicted to Lanegan's dark sound need not worry. When you distill Field Songs, what's left is the same haunted man singing folk, blues, and country numbers for the depressed and downtrodden. Even with deep, yet restrained atmospherics at work-- as on "One Way Street"-- he's singing lines like, "I drink so much sour whiskey, I can hardly see." Furthermore, the majority of these tracks are still the full-sounding, yet bare-boned affairs that Lanegan has made his trademark. If any album is capable of delivering roots music's last gasp of popularity, Field Songs is it. -Ryan Kearney

From Kerrang!

Rating 4/5
Reviewer Paul Rees (K! editor)
Fifth Solo Album From The Erstwhile Screaming Trees Singer
Josh Homme recently hailed Mark Lanegan as the finest voice of his generation. "Field songs" is proof that the QOTSA man knows his onions. Like it's four predecessors, this is low key, late-night music, Lanegan's soul bearing growl brooding over sparse and spacious musical backdrops. The eastern swirl of 'No Easy Action' aside, it has none of the epic bluster of Lanegan's former band, but all the melody and drama. From dustbowl opener 'One Way Street' on, Field Songs conjures up images of driving through a pitch black Californian desert, the radio flicking from one melancholy mood-piece to the next: the shimmering 'Kimiko's Song' (co-written with late Gun Club mainman Jeffrey Lee Pierce) to the hymnal 'Resurrection Song', the lovely 'Low' to the unhinged 'Fix'. Former Soundgarden man Ben Shepherd, Master Of Reality's Chris Goss and even ex-GN'R bassit Duff McKagan are among the guest musicians, but Field Songs is all about Mark Lanegan's voice. In the world of baggy-shorted jocks, the black-clad, f**ked-up boho beat poet is king.

From Mojo Magazine, 6/01

Mark Lanegan
Field Songs
Reviewed: June 2001
Genre: Rock
Key Tracks: Kimiko's Dream House Pill Hill Serenade One Way Street
Lugubrious former Screaming Trees frontman makes fifth solo outing.
Lanegan paid homage to influential songwriters with his last album (1999's cover versions-exclusive I'll Take Care of You), and now continues making strides toward placing his own name in the canon. Alongside long-time collaborators Mike Johnson (Dinosaur Jr) and Ben Shepherd (Soundgarden), he fashions lo-fi folk and gothic blues with chilling economy. The grunge veteran's usual concerns (drugs, whiskey, disappointed desire), amplified by sparse arrangements and his corrosive smokers' vocals, make for some uneasy listening - No Easy Action is like falling headfirst into a fissure in the earth's crust - but there are also vistas of unexpected beauty. Pill Hill Serenade's sonorous waltz is unapologetically pretty, One Way Street plays like a slow-motion spaghetti western, and Kimiko's Dream House (co-written with Gun Club's Jeffrey Lee Pierce) loftily highlights nostalgia like dust in a sunbeam. Brutal, bleak, and Lanegan's finest hour yet. Reviewed by Atlee Laurence

From The Sunday Times, 6/01

Field Songs
Beggars Banquet BBQCD224, £12.99
IF A PIECE of sandpaper were looking for a bit of rough, it would probably date Mark Lanegan's voice. On his fourth solo album, the former Screaming Trees singer applies his wonderful growl to a series of tales of despair, regret, dumb choices and lost loves. The album begins with the disconcerting claim that "the stars and the moon aren't where they're supposed to be", a suitable starting point for One Way Street, one of the best songs. The melodic invention that underpins both this and Low is elsewhere replaced with a catalogue of aural shocks that drag you into the music like a fierce undertow - among them the wailing of zombies on the otherwise hymn-like Resurrection Song and the clattering guitars that wrench the title track to its untimely demise. Fans of Nick Cave or Tom Waits will be in heaven. Kind of a grim heaven, obviously.
by Mark Edwards

From NME, 6/01

Mark Lanegan, Field Songs
Ex-Screaming Trees man opens his heart
If there's currently a male singer charting the darker corners of the human heart with more tender clarity than Mark Lanegan, please, show them in. Until then, he is without rival. Only Nick Cave can breathe life into themes of chemical dependence, hunger and revenge with the same lusty power, but judging by 'Field Songs' not even he can challenge Lanegan.
This is the former Trees singer's fifth solo album, and his best work since the final Trees offering, 'Dust', in '96. "Like I Told you before, veins are alright/ If I fall to the floor, it's for closing my eyes", sings Lanegan ruefully on the beautiful shooting den lullaby 'Kimiko's Dream House' (written, incidentally, with the late Gun Club singer Jeffrey Lee Pierce), and thereby hangs the thread of this album. This is soul music. Not necessarily by genre - although 'Pill Hill Serenade' could be an Otis Redding lament - but by virtue of the songs that lay their author's soul bare.
By the album's close, one feels an intimacy with Lanegan few friends enjoy. It's pitched somewhere between the last moment of clarity before drifting off on junk-filled dreams and the gnawing desperation between fixes. There are songs of dreamlike grace, like 'Field Song', which sounds like Leonard Cohen until it fades out to astonishing whipcrack guitar, songs of windy electricity, like 'No Easy Action's twisted psychedelia, and all points in between. 'Field Songs' may not be the best heartbreak and heroin album ever, but it's highly ranked. It's a cruel world that leaves Mark Lanegan so poorly remunerated for his many gifts, but he can draw comfort from knowing that his rasping, spine-timgling honesty rakes a clear path to a higher reward. (8/10) Ted Kessler

From The Times, 6/01

Unhappy trails BY DAVID SINCLAIR
Gloomy introspection from the wide open spaces won't get our critic down
In these days of stars who are famous for being famous, what both discerning pop fans and artists crave above all is authenticity. But authenticity can be a hard taskmaster. It may require the performer to endure many long, dark nights of the soul only to end up playing to a gallery of applauding critics in a lonely ghost town where mainstream audiences fear to tread.
Mark Lanegan has been there. As the singer in the Screaming Trees, the group from Ellensburg, Washington, he suffered for his art during the 1990s in much the same, self-inflicted way as many of his contemporaries, including the late Kurt Cobain. The experience has left its mark. Lanegan, currently a member of Queens of the Stone Age, was recently described by one interviewer as having “an air of slow, rueful menace about him, beady eyes that lock on to his subject, and very few words”.
At the age of 36, he also has a singing voice that it might almost be worth dying for. From the moment you first hear the opening bars of his fifth solo album, Field Songs (Sub Pop/Beggars Banquet), you are plunged into a different world — a place where dusty cowboy trails are sunk with dark wells of introspection. “Well I’m dressed in white, send roses to me/I drank so much sour whisky I can hardly see,” he sings in One Way Street in a voice that is stained the colour of old, elegant leather. An acoustic guitar strums in a minor key, while brushes sweep fitfully across a snare like the swish of a horse’s tail. In the back of the mix a slight but persistent murmur of noise crackles and shimmers like a gathering electrical storm. Located at a point somewhere between the gothic gloom of Nick Cave and the alternative Americana of Grant Lee Buffalo, Field Songs is a magnificent evocation of a life spent travelling without maps. There is no formula or plan for making music like this. It is simply the tale that Lanegan has to tell.

From Toast, 5/01 (

Mark Lanegan
Field Songs (Sub Pop)

With an all-star cast of backing musicians, Mark Lanegan delivers his finest since Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, showing once again that he's not afraid to step sideways from the mainstream, or back in time, to draw on folk and blues traditions. From the slow waltz "Pill Hill Serenade" and the contemplative softness of "Kimiko's Dream House," penned with the late Jeffrey Lee Pierce, to the tortuous obsession of "Fix," Lanegan's voice ranges from tenderness to gritty power. Ben Shepherd's instrumental "Blues for D" conjures moonlight and solitude, the edge of dreaming, the flutter of moths. Metallic guitar shivers rise up behind cleanly produced vocals and acoustic guitars, like the noise inside a pained mind, setting a tone of lonely weariness, of circumstantial traps and regrettable choices. Spiritual references and poetic line breaks give layered meanings, and we always find a way to go on, down an endless street or on a departing train. These are songs by and for survivors, delivered with clarity and intimacy.
[Jen Grover]

From The Stranger, 5/01

Mark Lanegan's Low, Coarse Rumble
by Jeff DeRoche
MARK LANEGAN Field Songs (Sub Pop) ****

The emotional centerpiece of Mark Lanegan's Field Songs is "Low," a folk song played on acoustic guitar, overlaid with bluesy interludes and a sad Hammond organ. "Blood is all there is," Lanegan sings, his voice whiskeyed, pained, and almost preternaturally masculine. "Lord, you know where I've been." For all its lyricism, the song is uncannily deadpan: "Tell her I wanted to say good-bye before the light was dead and gone. Tell her I didn't want to lie."
None of the easy humor that graces much of the record is present here; "Low" seems in part to be a song for the walking dead and the memory of those who have passed on, penned by a man who has himself experienced a sort of resurrection. Lanegan is more sober and introspective on Field Songs than in his prior work as a solo artist and with his former band, Screaming Trees. The song closes with the lyric, "If you have ever been skeleton low/If you have ever heard somebody say/Baby, baby don't you know about love...." This is the voice of a grown man looking back on his own life and seeing himself as a different person, previously addled with and surrounded by the rampant drug abuse that saturated Seattle's ruinous grunge years.
Surviving the mean, heroin-scarred times that saw him produce more than 10 records with the Screaming Trees and solo, Lanegan has managed to become a quintessential American songwriter. Like Tom Waits, Lanegan's voice is finely characterized by the willful treatment of smoke and booze during years of hard living--ravaged and rich with character, the voice in which he actually speaks. Lanegan, in fact, has two singing voices. The second is more feminine, and less interesting to listen to (as on the song "Pill Hill Serenade")--effective in punctuating a chorus, like the one in "Low," but otherwise lacking the charm of the man's experience.
This is an intimate record, full of death ("When all is done and turned to dust/And insects nest inside my bones/I see..." from "No Easy Action"), and loneliness on top of death ("As another summer dies/And not a thing in this world to do/Except be alone in it" from "She Done Too Much"). The low, coarse rumble in Lanegan's delivery simultaneously envelops and underscores such themes, conveying a depth of understanding and an acceptance of hard truth.
The voice also allows for a subtlety in Lanegan's more playful moments. On "One Way Street," the album's opener, Lanegan sings, "When I'm dressed in white/ Send roses to me/I drink so much sour whiskey/I can't hardly see," over the lull of piano, guitar, and a gentle drum pattern. When he goes on to sing, "You can't get it down without crying," he is more invested, his voice raised in frustration and apparent helplessness, but the mood of the song itself seems unchanged. Moments such as these--quiet transitions in mood and manner that go virtually unnoticed--have distanced Lanegan from his grunge origins as his solo work has progressed, revealing a masterful ability (both in songwriting and production) to make recorded songs wherein the voice and the instrumentation seem intrinsically blended and complementary. Field Songs is seamless as a result. Nothing feels abrupt or out of place and the album flows as a body of work, as opposed to a collection of songs.
In a phone conversation from somewhere in Los Angeles, where he has been living for the past four years, Lanegan seems both pleased and surprised that anyone has observed anything about his songs at all. He is happy that his sense of humor shows through on Field Songs, especially when made aware of the fact that reviews of the record are calling it sad and depressive: "I'm glad you recognize the humor," he says. "There is a lot of it. How could a record make anyone sad?" But it does. Much of it is sad. Like the song "Fix"--not because the lyrics are so melancholy, but because of the imagery the title evokes and the obvious references to Seattle and to heroin: "Your word in my head/Gonna watch from the balcony/Sing backwards and we fix/It's true/Keeps on raining baby."
Though he says Seattle's long winters inspired his move south, one imagines that Lanegan had more than just rain as a motivation for relocating to a sunnier city--a desire for a place less haunted, perhaps. On "She Done Too Much," Lanegan is somber: "Got so sad the day she done too much/And though I had the same/She done too much/ And it's a bad, bad feeling that you get/When you get so lonely...."
Over the phone, Lanegan is charming, cordial, and witty. He laughs upon being asked his age. "I'm 36," he says. "Though I look about 56 now." When asked why that is, he replies, "Clean living?"

From Billboard, 5/01

Album Title: Field Songs
Producer(s): none listed
Genre: ROCK
Catalog Number: 502
Source: Online
Originally Reviewed: May 24, 2001

Coming from an artist known for crafting visceral rock'n'roll with the late Screaming Trees, Mark Lanegan's fifth solo album, "Field Songs," takes a while to sink in. Even some of the warm immediacy of his early solo work has been lost. But this is a humbler style of music, best exemplified halfway through by "Kimiko's Dream House" (co-written with Jeffrey Lee Pierce), and the almost religious psalm "Resurrection Song."
If the epic grandeur of the mellotron-driven anthem "No Easy Action" sounds a little out of character, and the tender, waltzing "Pill Hill Serenade" would be better tailored for country singers like Kenny Rogers, most of the songs restore Lanegan's charisma: equal parts resigned fatalism and unflinching dignity.
These qualities are on display in the hypnotic dirge "Miracle" the virulent rant of "Don't Forget Me," the poetic gospel/blues of "Low" ("too dark for finding my ground while trees shiver swaying"), or in the lengthy, devastating confession of "Fix," which closes the album.
"One Way Street" and "Field Song", the two solemn (and almost gothic) standout tracks, change tone and pay homage to Lanegan's masters: Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave. Discreet piano, guitar, and organ embellishments (often quoting stereotypical sources like Beethoven's piano sonatas or Neil Young's guitar waltzes) land the artist in his favorite territory, roaming legendary distances at an ordinary pace. Still it may all be just a tad too ordinary, at least compared with his first three solo masterpieces.
--Piero Scaruffi

From CMJ, 5/01

Field Songs (Sub Pop)

Mark Lanegan's voice is a blues instrument. It doesn't matter if he's alone with an acoustic guitar or searing through a scrim of feedback in the Screaming Tress, what you feel from his whiskey-and-smokes croon is the blues. So when he's intoning miseries in your ear with his solo work, the effect is devastating, compelling, and sexy. As with Lanegan's previous discs, Mike Johnson (ex-Dinosaur Jr.) supplies most of the music on Field Songs, this time with a little help from the last of Soundgarden's bass players, Ben Sheppard. Acoustic guitar anchors the simple and pretty sound, with strings, organ and piano pushing things along; occasional electronics whoosh in to emphasize the stillness. Lanegan prefers to keep the emotions bare, too, avoiding noirish cliches by focusing on rootless yearnings, resignations and regrets common to both sides of the tracks -- heartbreak as a universal truth. A highlight is "Kimiko's Dream House," written with the late Jeffery Lee Pierce of Gun Club fame. Lanegan brings an I've-been-there sensitivity to the song, wringing drama out of its gentle conversational tone. Lanegan isn't a mope, just bluesy in that elemental sense. And through it all, there's that voice, its tone like fine-grit sandpaper, making sure that bleak is beautiful.

From Wall of Sound:

Mark Lanegan
Field Songs
Label: Sub Pop
Genre: Alternative
File Under: Bumper crop
Rating: 89

I envy Mark Lanegan's voice. It's one of the few perfect things in a horribly imperfect world. If I thought I could get away with it, I might even kill for his voice. At the very least I'd have my minions strap him down to a gurney while my private surgeon performed a vocal transplant. No singer in recent memory has a voice that causes such dastardly thoughts to bounce around in my brain. Sadly, I have no minions, no surgeon, and no one has gotten such a transplant to take - yet.

No matter what the setting, Lanegan's voice sounds great. It sounds great in a heavy rock song. It sounds great with spare acoustic accompaniment. Hell, it would sound great echoing through Lenny Kravitz's colon. So, not surprisingly, it shines on Field Songs, his fifth solo album.

After weeks of deep listening, Field Songs has become my favorite Lanegan record. Most of the music has this very cool, loose, druggy feel. I'll chalk that up to cell memory, since Mark and several of the musicians who join him are now sober (but still unclean, thank God). Longtime cohort Mike Johnson (ex-Snakepit, Dinosaur Jr) and relative newcomer Ben Shepherd (ex-March of Crimes) do the bulk of the electric, acoustic, and bass guitar work and flesh out Mark's songs with stunning arrangements. Synth and backward guitar snake around dark acoustic guitars on "She Done Too Much" and "One Way Street." Engineer Martin Feveyear provides droning organ to a similar effect on "Low" and the killer instrumental "Blues for D."

Initially, a couple of the songs ("Pill Hill Serenade" and "Kimiko's Dream House") came across a bit sappy, a bit too obvious, but after these many listens, I like them better than any of my so-called friends. My one remaining complaint is that on many occasions, as soon as a song kicks in and the music really takes off, it fades. I would love to hear where he was going with it.

And then there's that voice. Have I mentioned it yet? Every time I think about it, I start to cry.
- Mark Arm

Mark Arm plays rock and roll with Monkeywrench and Mudhoney. He recently turned to the lucrative field of music criticism to help pay for his trip to the International Space Station.


After coming into his own as a solo artist with 1994's wistfully sad and musically assured Whiskey for the Holy Ghost, ex-Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan's work has stagnated somewhat. Scraps at Midnight and the cover-song collection I'll Take Care Of You were both excellent efforts, but lacked the punch of Whiskey, when it sounded like a new voice was emerging from the ashes of an overlooked band's lamentable demise. This fifth solo effort, however, shows flashes of another growth spurt. Lanegan has never written anything as gentle and compositionally mature as "Kimiko's Dream House," for instance, nor has any of his records ever had this level of consistency, from bourbon-soaked blues to haunted, late-night roots rock. Furthermore, his band, featuring ex-Dinosaur Jr. member Mike Johnson on guitar and Ben Shepherd from the late, great Soundgarden on bass, has solidified, effortlessly veering between eerie soundscapes and somber evocations that form perfect backdrops for Lanegan's familiar smoky growl. Next time you feel like having a late-night chat with a friend named Jack Daniels, let this play in the background as a conversation starter, then draw your own conclusions about how affecting and perceptive Lanegan's work has become. --Matthew Cooke

From Rolling Stone

Mark Lanegan Field Songs (Sub Pop)

Yeah, everybody hurts -- and just about everybody is happy to spill the beans about that pain. The trick, however, is doing so in a way that makes the listener care and relate -- rather than feel like a nursery school teacher dealing with the class crybaby. Former Screaming Trees singer Mark Lanegan has an uncanny ability to not only get under your skin, but burrow into your soul. Admittedly, he starts with a decided advantage -- a scarred, sepulchral baritone that's as suited to a mournful wail (as on the Middle Eastern-tinged "No Easy Action") as it is to a libidinous murmur (in full effect on "Miracle"). Lanegan favors compact, dread-laced tales that fit squarely into the traditions of hill-country blues and country -- Hank Sr. would surely nod along to "Pill Hill Serenade." Interestingly enough, he takes the opposite tack when it comes to couching those tales, luxuriating in a sweeping drama that -- particularly on the Iberian-flavored "One Way Street" and the desperately keening "Don't Forget Me" -- makes for an undertow that's impossible to escape. (DAVID SPRAGUE)

From Earpollution, May 2001

Mark Lanegan's life and music is chockful of many ghosts, but the one wedged in the opening cracks of "One Way Street" I know personally. Inside and near the bottom of the middle escalator that descends from the corner of West 181st Street and Fort Washington into the grimy depths of New York's subway system lives, or used to, a poltergeist whose dismayed screeching I thought I was the only one who heard, and whose caterwauling I thought had stolen the last remnants of my sanity. I first heard the voice one morning early last summer on my way down to catch the A train. I've had my share of pharmaceutical indulgences and I've had both auditory and visual hallucinations aplenty, but this sound, when first heard, seemed to emanate directly from the center of my skull as I slid past on the escalator. I panicked and stopped in a cold sweat, heart pounding, and looked around. Why had no one else heard that but me? This was, honestly, one of only two times in my life where I've stopped dead into my tracks, scared completely shitless, thinking, "I've really done it, I've really gone mad. Absolutely mad. This is it. Oh, fuck!"

Once the sound had fled my head and I'd located it as coming from somewhere inside the bottom portion of that middle escalator, the ghost didn't stay around very long...a few days perhaps. And so I'm not surprised then to find it almost a year later lingering like cigarette smoke in the first moments of "One Way Street," the leading song off of Lanegan's fifth solo release, Field Songs. When the sun dries up each night, Lanegan's adopted home of Los Angeles has always been a harbor for dark shadows, and Lanegan himself has always known how to take those inner turmoils and, with them, create hauntingly beautiful pieces that linger on long after the sound has passed.

Joined, as always, on guitar by his brother-in-arms Mike Johnson, with additional drum and bass duties courtesy Barrett Martin (who played with Lanegan in the Screaming Trees--R.I.P.) and Ben Shepherd, respectively, Field Songs is Lanegan's most fully realized release to date. Taking the transcendental shudder of Whiskey for the Holy Ghost with tracks like "One Way Street," the quiet serenade of Scraps at Midnight ("Pin Hill Serenade"), and the folk-tinged influences of I'll Take Care of You ("Don't Forget Me"), Field Songs creates a bittersweet elixir of naked honesty. Here we find the gentle roll of "Kimiko's Dream House," co-written by close friend Jeffrey Lee Pierce (Gun Club) who died in 1996 from persistent health problems before the two had the chance to record; the achingly sad "She Done Too Much" ("Got so sad today, she done too much / Although I had the same, she done too much / And it's a bad, bad feeling that you get when you get so alone"); and the album's closer, "Fix," a slow burning blues raga that, behind Lanegan's gruff vocals, finds the distorted howl of the same ghost that began Field Songs.

Lanegan, now looking like a fit, much younger Tom Waits, has always given us salvation through his suffering. Here at last with Field Songs, it looks as if he's mastered his own demons and found his own redemption by turning the specters of his poisons into sacred wine. "Oh, the glorious sound of the one way street / and you can't get it down without crying." -Craig Young

From the Philadelphia Weekly, May 2001

Mark Lanegan FIELD SONGS Sub Pop

Like all great blues singers, Mark Lanegan is obsessed with death. He sings like a haunted man, always looking over his shoulder for that hellhound on his trail. While many of the songs on Lanegan's four previous solo releases sounded like sketches of despair, Field Songs cuts through the murk and, thankfully, goes straight for the gut. Much of this disc recalls Lanegan's more melodic work with the late, great Screaming Trees, who were wrongly tagged as grunge but were really the heavyweight champs of psychedelic blues-rock in the early '90s. Field Songs isn't as gloomy as Lanegan's previous solo work, but it's not an upbeat album by any means. On the opening track, "One Way Street," Lanegan sings, "I'm dressed in white/ Send roses to me/ I drink so much sour whiskey I can't hardly see," in a deep, soulful bellow that's always compared to Jim Morrison, but has much more in common with the phrasing of Tom Waits' damaged rasp. Eerie shards of feedback and guitar effects provided by ex-Dinosaur Jr. bassist and longtime Lanegan collaborator Mike Johnson ripple through tunes like "Resurrection Song" and the Indian-influenced "No Easy Action." Lanegan co-wrote the album's best track, "Kimiko's Dream House," with Jeffrey Lee Pierce of the Gun Club shortly before Pierce's death in 1996 following surgery to treat a blood clot in his brain. Built around a Led Zeppelin-like acoustic melody, the song seems a fitting elegy for a friend, especially when Lanegan sings, "It's a matter of time, like I told you before." On Field Songs, Lanegan sounds like he's finally getting comfortable with himself as a singer. But that doesn't mean he's not still listening to the ghosts rattling their chains in his mind. A- --TIM ZATZARINY JR.

From the Seattle Weekly , May 2001

MARK LANEGAN Field Songs (Sub Pop)

As expected, ex-Screaming Trees frontman still dreary and depressed. Mark Lanegan records gravel-voiced ruminations for nights of drinking 'n' driving. Which ain't the wisest way to spend an evening of heart-heavy contemplation, but the ex-Screaming Trees frontman never claimed that listening to Field Songs would be the best method for coping with life. Not that any of this should be surprising for longtime fans. Extraordinarily similar to his previous solo outings in sound and style, Lanegan's fourth Sub Pop album is full of romantic revelations and haunting heartache, with no relief anywhere inside these dozen narratives of desolation and introspection--just like his devotees love it and live it. "One Way Street" opens the album announcing that "I drink so much sour whiskey I can't hardly see," and by the time the albums creep to its close, he's going in circles and resigning himself to the fact that there's "Not a thing in this world to do except be alone in it" ("She's done too much"). Sure, the pain can be overbearing--think Chan Marshall on one helluva bar crawl--but that's exactly the point, and so Field Songs is never anything less than another one of his gravely beautiful and emotionally intoxicating trips down life's lonely highway.--Jimmy Draper

Copyright May 2001, Maxim

4 out of 5 stars
A man with a perpetual cloud over his head, Mark Lanegan fronted the Seattle-based rockers Screaming Trees; the rest of his time is spent simmering over haunted gems like this. Filled with desperate folk crawls and country blues, Lanegan goes to the mat with his demons (heartbreak and drugs), refusing to let them bury him as they have many of his friends (including one Kurt Cobain). Make no mistake, this is some bleak shit, but Lanegan's soulful laments turn this into an emotional wrestling match worth attending.