Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dynamite Steps, The Twilight Singers (2011)

I first heard The Twilight Singers around 2005 or 2006. A friend and I had spent the evening at the record store and she had heard good things about the band. She purchased She Loves You. An album of covers, songs ranging from Bjork, Fleetwood Mac, and John Coltrane. The album was meant as background for an evening of conversation. But, somehow, the album became a mood for the conversation. Something about lead singer Greg Dulli's voice will always haunt.

Dulli's voice is a mix of Randy Newman's balloon throated sounds and Tom Waits' whiskey ripped voice. A more radio friendly vocalist, but not quite radio friendly enough. Dulli is the man you find at the same bar stool. Nightly. The same dive bar. Nightly. His songs are the lost souls of the late night. Men and women unable to really hold onto themselves or one another. Every Dulli album is pretty similar to the next. Lyrically, vocally, musically... Dulli doesn't really change. But, I like him for all of these reasons.

On Dynamite Steps, Dulli stays on track throughout the entire album. On previous albums, Dulli would occasionally try for a louder sound. A song featuring few guitars and more of a pop-mix sound. The opening track, 'Last Night in Town,' is the only track on the album that attempts this change from the guitar heavy songs. Since it is the opening track, it doesn't stand out as awkward. In fact, it's a great way to begin the album. A little something different.

The fourth track, 'Get Lucky,' has probably been played about thirty times since I heard the album at the start of the week. The song is a perfect Dulli song. The vocals, the music, the lyrics... this is the heart of The Twilight Singers. Following this song, two of the other best songs from the album: 'On the Corner' and 'Gunshots.'

The album doesn't shake or falter following these three great songs. It might mellow out a bit, but it doesn't break its pace. On 'Blackbird and the Fox,' Dulli sings alongside Ani Difranco. While Difranco hasn't been a strong presence in music in the past decade, her voice floats so perfectly alongside Dulli.

Dulli isn't always the great lyricist ("shut your legs and open your alibi"), but only moments later... in the same song, Dulli will surprise you with great lyrics. He's a dark, bar stool poet. He doesn't always sing in tune. At times, it may seem more drunken sing along than well produced album. That is what Dulli does. He creates an atmosphere. Few albums can really change a mood.

Dynamite Steps leaves me introspective and hopeful, but a little bit bitter. The best way to be.


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