The Twilight Singers - Play Blackberry Belle
Do you remember Greg Dulli? Of come, you must do? Well for the uninitiated amongst you he was the former front man of Afghan Whigs. His latest musical venture is The Twilight Singers. With arty photographs of wind swept palm trees (in black and white naturally) and a quotation from Jack London tastefully placed in the CD inlay booklet, it's a safe bet to assume we're entering serious soul searching territory.
Further investigations seem to suggest that my initial hunch was correct. "Martin Eden" has lyrics which explore the plight of desperation and even suicide. Gregg's quiet, breathy vocal accentuates that feeling of hopelessness the mood would imply. It's undeniably American with elements of country, rock and just a hint of pathos. The uneasy piano sound add an edge of uneasiness. "St Gregory" is very calm, cool and collected. The gentle good natured ambience is transcendent. A moralistic tale of a man who has gone off the rails contains the intriguing line "there's a riot going on - inside of me". Indeed. A special mention should go to Jesse Tobias whose subtle yet eclectic style of guitar playing is a gift to the listener.
"Papillon" is a cavalcade of musical styles with acoustic guitar, banjo, clarinet and piano's intertwining. Quite sombre both lyrically and musically this becomes something of a rocker as the track gains momentum. It has epic written all over it with a pleasing orchestral interlude. The ubiquitous Mark Lanegan (QOTSA, session musician for hire extraordinaire) pops up on "Number Nine" as guest vocalist. Countrified, quaint and shamelessly old fashioned in the best possible way, this is as emotional as The Twilight Sisters aspire to. It shows the same world weariness of Tom Waites. The lyrics are viciously savage, but in a comical, tongue in cheek way with a streak of dark humour that's hard to resist.
The Twilight Singers Play Blackberry Belle is an album to savour, appreciate and treasure, but for goodness sake don't play it if you're having a wild party, you'll clear the room in seconds.
Nicholas Paul Godkin
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