A Stitch in Time – Red Alert

The Red Alert

Sex still sells, of course, but rock hardly seems like its natural habitat anymore. Greg Dulli is one of the few indie-rock singers who has been able to consistently sing about sex through the years while 1) sounding like he’s actually talking from experience but 2) without coming off as some harmless jokester, creepy perv, or lame braggart. This reviewer can’t speak to the accuracy of point #1, but it seems pretty clear that one of the keys behind point #2 is that “sex” should be defined in the Twilight Singers universe not just by the acts themselves but by the whole surrounding world. Their “sex” songs are songs about the chase, about the ache and the doubt and the solemn midnight promises. Yes, fellow adults, A Stitch in Time is an EP about a deeper connection than the simple bump-n-grind. With that said, if you want to play it as a soundtrack to your next one night stand, it will probably suit your needs just fine.

Actually, a warning about that: its effectiveness as an aphrodisiac will invariably be affected by your partner’s reaction to Mark Lanegan, who appears on two of the five tracks and, well, sounds like Mark Lanegan. That means that many listeners will find the Massive Attack cover “Live With Me” rousing and romantic, while others will find it unsettling or even menacing. For those not seeking to use the songs as a means to an end, all that grey area will serve them very well. Lanegan’s earthy rasp cuts clean from the speakers, and, later in the song, is nicely offset by Dulli’s dramatic flair. “Live With Me” is the opener, centerpiece and catalyst of the EP, stemming from Lanegan’s appearances during a Twilight Singers tour (the marriage worked so well that Dulli and Lanegan will also be releasing music as The Gutter Twins).

Dulli and his crew are such formidable interpreters that they’ve already devoted a full-length, She Loves You, to other people’s material (recommendation for first-time visitors: start with “Feeling of Gaze”).

Lanegan isn’t the only guest of note; Joseph Arthur rocks the mic on the Achtung Baby-channeling “Sublime,” while Dulli’s old Afghan Whigs bandmates turn up for “They Ride.” Perhaps best of all is the sweet, lightly orchestral closer, “The Lure Would Prove Too Much,” featuring an expressive, fragile vocal from Dulli. Less welcome are the phone messages that eventually interfere with the song; Dulli apparently has a soft spot, as he also played a message at the beginning of “Feeling of Gaze.”

— Adam McKibbin

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