Powder Burns – Austin 360

Austin360.com
4 Stars

It’s fitting that lead Twilight Singer Greg Dulli and President Clinton came to national prominence around the same time in 1993, Dulli with his old band the Afghan Whigs, Clinton with his old band the Democratic Party.

Both men are pudgy, yet magnetically charismatic. Both men seem to be compulsive womanizers, most likely related to insecurity about said weight, a fondness for the game of seduction and complicated feelings about women. Both men are brilliant, wildly successful (artistically and electorally) in their chosen fields. Since the Whigs’ bust-up in 2000, Twilight Singers is the name Dulli gives to whatever full-band project he’s working on now. (Clinton’s also been a little lower profile since 2000, but not by much.) These days, the Singers sound more Whig-like than ever, but bigger, more detailed. Less melodrama, more ardor.

On “I’m Ready,” the lead-off track on “Powder Burns,” Dulli swears he’s not the man he was: “Whatever you heard about me before/believe me, things ain’t the way they were.” Maybe it’s because Hurricane Katrina clobbered his adopted city of New Orleans. “Underneath the Waves” and “I Wish I Was” feel like uneasy odes to the Big Easy. But there’s also a story of addiction in “Powder Burns” (get it?). The last Singers’ album, “Blackberry Belle,” was dedicated to Dulli’s pal, director Ted Demme, who died of cocaine-related heart trouble. Ever since, Dulli’s seemed more thoughtful and less cynical, but still possessed of a tough narrative sense. It burns as brightly as it ever, powder and passion consuming everything around him.

(The Twilight Singers play with Jeff Klein on Friday at the Parish.)

— J.G.

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