Powder Burns – Washington Post

Washingtonpost.com

PARTIALLY RECORDED in a post-Katrina New Orleans, the Twilight Singers’ “Powder Burns” reacts to a catastrophe that singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Greg Dulli almost seems to welcome. Not that the musician, who came to prominence in the 1990s with Cincinnati’s Afghan Whigs, wanted to see his adopted city under water. But the album’s roaring yet intricate orch-rock does summon some kind of tempest, as if it takes high winds (and blustery string arrangements) to clear Dulli’s head.

Although songs such as “I Wish I Was” were inspired by the hurricane, most of the album reports on internal weather. “Candy Cane Crawl” and “Bonnie Brae” are clearly about drugs, which Dulli can hardly be accused of glamorizing: “Situation dire, it’s gone away, it’s not going away,” he sings in the latter tune, as Ani DiFranco’s voice slips between the thudding instruments. Dulli’s worldview remains as dark as his preferred sound, which swaggers and broods at the same time. So it’s no surprise that “Forty Dollars” includes an ironic medley of Beatles lyrics, with the singer bitterly intoning, “love is all you need” and “she loves you yeah yeah yeah.” Yet for all its gloom, “Powder Burns” hopes for a sunny aftermath.

In “I’m Ready,” the album’s most upbeat number, Dulli insists that what he’s ready for is “to love somebody.”

— Mark Jenkins

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