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Duke Garwood's status as one of contemporary rock's best kept secrets was well and truly challenged last year with Black Pudding, his collaborative album with Mark Lanegan. A long standing fan, Lanegan then helped play a part in the recording of Heavy Love and has described Garwood as "one of my all-time favourite artists." In the two spare studio days after the pair completed their album in Burbank, California, Duke recorded some of these songs. Although the bulk of Heavy Love was completed back home in the UK, it retains a lot of the "haunted spaghetti western" vibe found on Black Pudding, possibly due to the fact that Mark, together with Queens of the Stone Age producer Alain Johannes, did the final mixes for it back in California.

Listening to Heavy Love as a set of songs, it is surprising that it wasn't all done at the same time. The album seems to be informed by the desert location - there is a great sense of space, songs seem to just hang in the air - and Duke's playing and vocal style is raw and dry and earthy.

Garwood has been around a while, on the edge of things. He grew up in rural Kent and made his first foray into the music biz by playing guitar on the Orb's 1991 hit 'Perpetual Dawn'. He has been releasing acclaimed solo albums since 2005, and Heavy Love is his fifth. He first came to my attention a couple of years ago when he was third on a bill at Cafe Oto (behind Sir Richard Bishop and Alexander Tucker) - playing a mesmerising set without making much of a big deal about it.

Heavy Love is as understated as it is powerful. You could put it on the background and it would fill the room before you even noticed, or alternatively you could put your headphones on and get lost in it. This is uncluttered modern blues and it has a sense of space within it which gives it an extra dimension, the sonic equivalent of a designer leaving some dramatic white space on a page.

Opening track 'Sometimes' is an example of how slow blues can become trance-like. Everything is subtle yet intense. The percussion is busy in the background, whilst harmonica notes just hang, and the voice is as deep and smooth as velvet.

Duke is known as a multi-instrumentalist and he plays a lot of the instruments here, although some others do help out. Jehnny Beth from Savages delivers a beautifully restrained vocal on the title track, one of the real highlights, weaving itself around a slippery guitar melody.

Guitars float and drift around 'Burning Seas' and, whilst the root of this music is the blues, at no point do any of the guitar lines sound like they are doing anything conventional, yet it all works. 'Disco Lights' is a bleak and spacious song, nothing like its title, and the female vocal is another clever idea, providing some contrast to Duke's deeper tones.

'Snake Man' and the minimal 'Honey In The Ear' are slightly more traditional, whilst the lovely 'Summertime in Hell' has some great delicate guitar again. The epic closing track 'Hawaiian Death Song' is a wonderful way to finish. Returning to that fine line between the blues and meditative trance, the multi-layered guitars and drifting vocal create something magical.

The way that Garwood has executed this moody and atmospheric take on the blues reminds me of parts of the later Talk Talk albums or maybe even the last Bad Seeds record. This music has an antique heart and, instead of having lots of modern crap plastered on top of it, it has been lovingly restored.

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