Amber Headlights – Dingbat Mag

3/5 Bats
Clay Matlin
Dingbatmag.com

What are we to do with Greg Dulli? He releases these albums, waxing his own ego, and it is an interesting one, all full of machismo and pent up little boy frustrations about women and love, but where is he? Dulli’s best work is his darkest, the most confessional, the one that shines brightest is the one most cloaked in doom. How does the listener reconcile the fact that to love him is to love a monster, albeit one with the emotional stability of a teenage boy? When he was with the Afghan Whigs it was sensual and threatening, the dichotomy between the two fascinating. Dulli’s studies in misogyny, the seminal Gentlemen, were a burst of testosterone thunder, immediate in the notions of longing they provoked. His was a poetry of sexual aggression. With the Twilight Singers he moved on to darker territory, the elegant and moving Blackberry Belle was almost a meditation on suicide. But with this new album, the so-called lost album, shelved in the event of his friend Ted Demme’s death, there is something askew. This new material has none of his old swagger. Instead it is burdened by a desire for escape. The line “get the wheel let’s go for a ride/if you’re trouble then I’ll follow you down,” is repeated throughout the album, lending it a sense of flight. It is this flight that makes the album arresting, but at the same time taste of half formed things. Dulli seems to be running from something, but what, is known only to him. He remains a charismatic figure, but one more on the outside than before. His outsider charm makes him daring, but it also makes him troubling. Dulli is keeping the listener at bay with this work, making it his most difficult album to date. “I been asleep/what’s goin’ on” he half growls/half asks, I would love to know, but at times it seems even he has no clue. It would be astounding to see what he could write if he woke up in time.

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