Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse
The tone is no surprise, given the personality (and suicide earlier this year) of Sparklehorse (Mark Linkous). And frankly, despite the collaborative credit, this is a Sparklehorse album. Most of the tracks follow his template: lyrics that define a human condition stirred by hope but beset with pain and ultimate failure; soft thuds and whispers in a warm churn of guitars, strings, piano, and organ; and layers and layers of individually jarring samples concocted together to make a perfect, touching beauty. Soul also exhibits Linkous' fondness for placing whimsical sounds in frightening aural environments, like the watery carnival organ on "Grim Augury", sung and co-written by Vic Chesnutt (who also took his life recently - sheesh).
After planning a summer 2009 release, Soul got mired in a mysterious legal battle with EMI, delaying release to July 15 of this year. This delay and the aforementioned deaths make this project something of a de facto tribute - lucky for us a diversity of quality performers all got their shots in right here at the end, including The Flaming Lips, Gruff Rhys, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Julian Casablancas, Black Francis, Iggy Pop, and even David freaking Lynch (yes, that David Lynch ), among others.