Amber Headlights – Citybeat

Citybeat
Sean Rhiney

Grade: A+

So far only George Lucas has had the balls to release his films out of order, but leave it to former film student Greg Dulli, whose previous discs have always been “shot on location,” to release a prequel of his own. Culled from original demos and jams shelved after the demise of his beloved Afghan Whigs in 2001, Amber Headlights is Dulli’s first solo offering after two discs of original material in 2000 and 2003 with his Twilight Singers. Recorded between 2001 and 2002, Headlights retains the live crunch of last years’ all covers disc, She Loves You, with nine tracks that fit comfortably between the Whigs’ last hurrah, 1965, and the dark experimentalism and heavy-hearted lyrics of 2003’s Blackberry Belle. Headlights’ delay was initially brought about by the tragic death of Dulli’s best friend, director Ted Demme, in 2002. Dulli was by all accounts devastated and sacked this collection of songs to start recording anew. The result was the beautiful requiem for Demme that became Belle. The bridge between these discs is Headlights’ achingly spare “Get the Wheel” and rollicking “Cigarettes,” both original templates for “Follow You Down,” a standout track on Belle. Headlights shows Dulli in a looser mood, though, where the spirit of Zeppelin and Sabbath are invoked freely on rockers “So Tight” and “Black Swan” and the new Trip Hop soul of the Twilight Singers shines on the sinister tome “Wicked.” One last blast from the past has Dulli channeling dearly departed Soul brother and oft-covered icon Barry White with a slight twist on White’s lyrics during the playful “Pussywillow.” Headlights includes contributions from Dulli’s new touring Twilight Singers as well as old friends like Whigs’ bassist John Curley, early TS/Whigs co-conspirator Harold Chichester and even touring pals Ben Daughtery and Stuart Johnson from Louisville’s Love Jones. The group effort serves as a short and sweet aural aperitif, as Dulli and his Twilighters are currently in the midst of recording a brand new album entitled Powder Burns slated for a February release. Until then, this pre-stop gap serves as a sweet reminder of Dulli’s storied musical past and limitless future.

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