Dynamite Steps – Washington Post

Washingtonpost.com Editors’ Pick

It’s a grim world where the Twilight Singers live. Singer Greg Dulli populates the lyrical landscape of the band’s new album, “Dynamite Steps,” with suspicious characters and dark imagery, frequently referencing gunplay, the devil, fire and blood.

“Muddy water, broken glass / I can feel you from the inside now,” the former Afghan Whigs singer belts on “Waves” over a sea of crashing guitars and a menacingly thumbed bass line. “Born a liar, obfuscate / Step aside while I manipulate.”

Dulli’s backing band echoes his noir sensibility and sense of theatricality. Although there are a few full-throttle rock tracks, most of “Dynamite Steps” is an intricately arranged affair, with tracks ranging from grand and anthemic to darkly romantic and elegant.

The softer tracks often deliver the bigger impact. The weeping strings and lush backing vocals on “Never Seen No Devil” give the song a haunting quality. “Blackbird and the Fox” provides a pleasant respite from the intensity, with guitars that twinkle and sweet vocal contributions from folk singer Ani DiFranco.

But Dulli’s clearly at home when he’s going big with his throaty rasp on anthemic tracks like the majestic “Gunshots.”

And while the album’s storylines are vague and impressionistic, Dulli’s imagery and his signature howl breathe dramatic life to the words.

–Dan Miller, May 6, 2011

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