Powder Burns – SceneandHeard.ca
In the three years between Twilight Singers albums, frontman Greg Dulli (ex-Afghan Whigs) kicked a long-standing drug addiction and witnessed the destruction of his adopted hometown of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina.
Not surprisingly, Powder Burns is the Singers’ most personal effort. While Dulli may have buried his tales of struggling with addiction beneath a wall of effects-laden guitars, horns and bombastic drums, the disc’s 12 tracks still manage to convey a sense of intimacy, never once overwhelm Dulli’s vocals.
Although the album is not implicitly about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a couple of water-themed tracks could be interpreted as such. The instrumental lead off ‘Toward the Waves’ almost sounds like a coming storm as it leads into the driving ‘I’m Ready’. ‘Underneath the Waves’ evokes images of the devastation wrought by the hurricane while Dulli’s intense vocals and lyrics capture the anger and dwindling hope many New Orleans citizens felt as they waited for help to arrive.
The album is not completely bereft of quiet moments. ‘Candy Cane Crawl’ and the beautiful ‘The Conversation’ provide the album with its two most powerful moments.
Powder Burnsis an oftentimes uncomfortable journey through one man’s personal hell filled with anger, sadness and ragged hope. The 90s alt-rock-style (quiet verse/loud chorus) song structure does seem a little dated at times but it does little to take away from the sheer emotional power of these songs.
– Andrew Horan