Earlier this evening, Isobel Campbell, Mark Lanegan’s frequent collaborator and co-conspirator (formerly of Belle & Sebastian) announced via Twitter that fans could download for free her reimagined version of Franz Ferdinand’s “Walk Away” in exchange for an email address.
Though her work with the former Screaming Trees frontman has been turning several heads over the last half-decade or so, and the tour for their Hawk LP (2010) remains the most properly brooding and seductive live show I have ever scene, Bel, as a solo artist, has remained sadly elusive. The current cover of “Walk Away” is, I believe, the first we’ve heard from her since Milk White Sheets in 2006. Those familiar with the Franz Ferdinand original should take note, this is a complete reimagining of the urtrack—more closely related to the great French chanteuses of the ’60s and ’70s than any Glaswegian guitar pop you’ve ever heard—more Françoise Hardy than Franz Ferdinand.
While Milk White Sheets, blew me away by frequently applying adventurous, contemporary melodic counterpoint and harmonic colors to traditional songs and folk melodies, “Walk Away” recalls an earlier vein in the enigmatic Ms. Campbell’s body of work. Built on the foundation of a subdued jazz drum kit, simple bass line, and sustained chordal string harmonies, a fairly prominent glockenspiel countermelody to complement to her soft, sweet, and breathy vocals provides much of the textural interest here and hearkens back to her first post-B&S album, Amorino, or, even more so, to her days as The Gentle Waves.
If you follow her various social media outlets, you understand how elusive Bel can be. With only some 70 tweets to her name, you’d be forgiven for believing she’d given up on the music thing entirely. But with a recent uptick in Twitter activity (including this promising post from just over a week ago), and now the offer of this new track, it seems likely that there might more for us Isobel Campbell devotees in the relatively near future. Until then, head over to her website and trade your email address for a glimpse of what’s to come. Then, tell all your friends to do the same.