If forced to pick a young singer-songwriter to carry the “new Townes Van Zandt” mantle, Willy Mason would undoubtedly make my shortlist. It’s too early in his enigmatic career, though, to make such proclamations, so let’s just say he’s one to watch for now. As previously reported, Mason sings two duets with Isobel Campbell on Hawk, a collaborative album featuring longtime singing partner Mark Lanegan (on 8 tracks) and ex-Smashing Pumpkins/current Tinted Windows guitarist James Iha (on “You Won’t Let Me Down Again”).
There are few singers capable of channeling the nuanced despair of Van Zandt’s voice, but Mason — as he has proven with his own music, as well — is the man for the job. Meanwhile, I’d place Campbell’s pitch-perfect harmonies here alongside Emmylou Harris’ venerable oeuvre as a backing vocalist (for Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams, and Bright Eyes, et al.). Stream the pair’s gorgeous take on Van Zandt’s 1978 Flyin’ Shoes song, “No Place to Fall,” below:
Isobel Campbell & Willy Mason – “No Place to Fall” (Thanks for the tip, Anthony!)