Amber Headlights – Chord

GREG DULLI
Amber Headlights [Infernal]
4 out of 5
Chord Magazine

Steven Hanna

After the breakup of the great Afghan Whigs in 2000, Greg Dulli began work on a solo record full of the kind of soulful rock that he does best, very much of a piece with the evil carnivals of the Whigs’ swan song 1965. Shelved when the unexpected death of good friend Ted Demme left Dulli feeling like the light had gone out of his dark party, Amber Headlights went unheard until recent and relentless nudging from fans and friends prompted him to put it out as a stopgap before the Twilight Singers return early next year. It’s tough to articulate exactly what Dulli felt was inappropriate about it in the wake of Demme’s death – Dulli is such an inveterate showman, hiding behind smoky come-ons and leer-filled posturing, that his emotions can be tough to locate in his music – but the themes that resurfaced on 2003’s Blackberry Belle are shrouded here in clubgoer leather rather than funeral black, and in general Amber Headlights boasts a healthy wallop of the menacingly masculine rock that Whigs and Twilight fans love so much. It’s a tad front-loaded, with the disc’s midsection in particular weighed down by a few too many grooves-in-search-of-a-song, and you suspect at times that Dulli set the album aside less because it didn’t say what he wanted to express in his grief than because it didn’t say much of anything at all. But at its finest, it’s mean, low-lit and bare-knuckled, and even the off numbers are a party and a half.

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