Rock's shrouded man of mystery returns to the frontman position with Blues Funeral. That said, it's not really a mystery that Mark Lanegan can show up pretty much anywhere: with Soulsavers, Isobel Campell, the Gutter Twins, Queens of the Stone Age, Twilight Singers. But perhaps Mr. Lanegan is at his best with his solo releases. The veil is certainly thinnest on these releases, especially 2001's fantastic Field Songs.

Blues Funeral isn't really blues at all. It expands on the sound Bubblegum only hinted at. Made up of Alain Johannes, Jack Irons, Aldo Struyf, producer Chris Goss, Greg Dulli (Twilight Singers), Josh Homme (QOTSA), the Mark Lanegan Band starts dark and gets darker. The pummeling "The Gravedigger's Song" sets this mood. Mark's voice improves with every release, and at this point he's the devil's little brother. The influence of the Gutter Twins material seeps into the majority of this record, MLB use subtle electronics to enhance almost every tune.

"St. Louis Elegy" a smoky and scary tune with a great progression, an ode to heaven or hell, is a clear standout. Lanegan sings "Down here the winter will cut you quick, these tears are liquor and I've drunk myself sick" and you can't help but think he means actual St. Louis, and maybe not hell exactly. Josh Homme forces "Riot In My House" to be the hardest track on the record, it definitely has that QOTSA touch, and the hypnotizing, monotonous piano line just makes it. "Quiver Syndrome" is more classic Lanegan, with added laser sounds, and poppy female backing vocals.

Electronics come to the forefront in "Harborview Hospital," one of the albums best. The track finds Lanegan part empathetic and part confessional, and the swirling guitars and synths spiral around his gruff baritone. However, "Deep Black Vanishing Train" a simple acoustic tune, is what Lanegan does best. There is nothing like that voice, it'll haunt you.

Mark Langen is a legend in my eyes, and I always love where he chooses to go in his many projects, but his solo efforts are usually my favorites. Blues Funeral is no exception. While it is different in some regard, it's classic Lanegan, a simple yet sophisticated rock album, from one of music's most unique voices.