Achingly gorgeous and hauntingly stark, Mark Hollis' self-titled debut picks up where he left off with Talk Talk's Laughing Stock seven years earlier, re-emerging at the nexus point where jazz, ambient, and folk music collide. It's quite possibly the most quiet and intimate record ever made, each song cut to the bone for maximum emotional impact and every note carrying enormous meaning. Hollis paints his music in fine, exquisite strokes, with an uncanny mastery of atmosphere that's frequently devastating. And if anything, his singularly resonant voice has grown even more plaintive with the passage of time, which – combined with the understated artistry and minimalist beauty of tracks like "The Colour of Spring" and "Watershed" – makes Mark Hollis a truly unique and indelible listening experience. His obvious understanding of the power of silence aside, one prays he doesn't again wait for the seven-year itch to strike before returning.
By now, anyone who has heard one of Mark Lanegan's solo albums knows exactly what the others will sound like – Lanegan's weathered, smoky voice intones tales of quiet desperation over echoing electric guitar arpeggios, folky acoustic guitar work, and the occasional piano, organ, or violin embellishment. This approach has resulted in a compelling body of work, often possessed of remarkable depth, but it's also become something of a stylistic straitjacket over the course of several albums. And that's the only major knock against the otherwise brilliant I'll Take Care of You, Lanegan's fourth solo album, which marks the first time it hasn't taken him four years to deliver a follow-up. Perhaps that's because there's no original material here – I'll Take Care of You applies the drifting, elegiac qualities of its predecessors to a selection of well-chosen, mostly underexposed folk, country, and blues covers. It's a testament to Lanegan's interpretive skill that he's able to use his already well-established style so effectively yet again, as most of these versions range from stunning to merely excellent.