first appeared in Month Magazine, January 1994

The sounds of a new year

Mark Lanegan

Whiskey for the Holy Ghost

(Sub Pop)

Majestic. Haunting. Half way through the first song I got misty. Dense, thick, smooth cigarette smoke oozed from the cracks in my stereo. This is the kind of album that gives you the chills on the first listen. And the second and third for that matter. The album plays on like a lost melody hummed on an aimless Sunday drive or a rainy daydream. All instruments appear like ghosts in Lanegan's hazy imagination. Violins, fretless basses, guitars, even a lonely saxophone try to help Mark recall last night's boozy blur. The music is the stuff every songwriter longs to dream up.

Lanegan's first solo masterpiece in '89, The Winding Sheet, which included performances by members of Nirvana and Dinosaur Jr., gave only a hint to his truer ambitions. Whiskey... is instant afterglow, furthering Lanegan's immortal themes of booze, nicotine, death, loss, Jesus, and rain. Lots of rain. This album was supposed to be out a year ago. To say it was well worth the wait" would be a severe understatement and an unworthy cliche. I don't mean to go overboard here, but this might already be the best album of '94. Whatever the case, everything else this year is going to seem like the aftermath of Whiskey...


Gabe Carter