Standing apart in Mark Lanegan’s discography and released between two recordings whose sound is more traditionally associated with the alt-rock singer songwriter, Imitations (2013) is a collection of covers, his second after I’ll Take Care of You (1999).
When I was a kid in the late sixties and early seventies, my parents and their friends would play the records of Andy Williams, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Perry Como, music with string arrangements and men singing songs that sounded sad whether they were or not. At home my folks were also listening to country music, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Vern Gosdin were some of our favourites. For a long time I’ve wanted to make a record that gave me the same feeling those old records did, using some of the same tunes I loved as a kid and some that I’ve loved as I have gotten older. This record is it. Imitations.
Alongside reprises of standards like “Autumn Leaves” and “Lonely Street” (both based on Andy Williams’ versions) or “Mack the Knife” which the singer “copied note for note” from Dave Van Ronk’s version, Mark Lanegan also shines a new light on contemporary songs such as Nick Cave’s “Brompton Oratory” or The Twilight Singers’ “Deepest Shade”. Imitations also includes a surprising cover of Élégie funèbre from “La Mort D’Orion”, a 1970 rock opera by French singer songwriter Gérard Manset.
Opening the record is a really superb version of Chelsea Wolfe’s “Flatlands” arranged with a sting section. The song originally appeared on Chelsea Wolfe’s third studio album Unknown Rooms: A Collection of Acoustic Songs (2012).