Amber Headlights – The Advocate

The Advocate – Album Review
By Ray Hogan
2.5 Stars

Last year’s “She Loves You,” a collection of diverse covers by former Afghan Whig Dulli and his loose aggregation of Twilight Singers (including valuable player Mark Lanegan), was one of the best records of the year. It probably didn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s tracked the career of the alternative rocker with a soulman’s heart. He reworked material by everyone from Bjork and Mary J. Blige to Billie Holiday and John Coltrane.

“Amber Headlights” is a much different project. It dates back to 2001, when dealing with the breakup of The Afghan Whigs, Dulli began to write and record again only to see the process disrupted by the unexpected death of his friend, Ted Demme. He’s decided to release those songs now. Not surprisingly, there’s a demo feel to some of the material, as well as glimpses of what has made Dulli such a followed singer over the past 10 years.

“So Tight” demonstrates Dulli’s fondness for soul music with a funky guitar riff uncannily replicating a Stevie Wonder-like keyboard folly and the singer in full rocker mode, stretching his nicotine-ravaged voice to ragged glory. Speaking of nicotine, “Cigarettes” starts as a cautionary tale before U-turning into a joyous road song. The swagger and crunch on “Black Swan” recall The Cult, and Dulli surely knows how to bring the ache out of a ballad like “Get the Wheel,” which was reworked and retitled for The Twilight Singer’s 2003 disc, “Blackberry Belle.”

The other five songs on the disc aren’t as fully realized but, “Amber Headlights” is better than most of what passes for good rock these days. Available through www.thetwilightsingers.com.

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