Blackberry Belle – Brainwashed.com

– Rob Devlin

Greg Dulli is no stranger to death, as his albums have included songs
tinged with mortality. In recent years, however, he seemed to be cooling
off and enjoying life a bit more. He was working on material for a new
album when he got the word that his good friend Ted Demme had died of
heart failure while playing at a charity basketball event early in 2002.

Suddenly the album Dulli was working on had no meaning for him anymore,
and he turned again to the familiar material of his past. The man with
the notorious party lifestyle began penning new material, and the result
is the death party record Blackberry Belle. The classic Dulli sound is
back for the most part, with full sex romp and pomp, but every song has
a twisted edge where it deals with loss on some level or another. Dulli
is starting to see the dangers of the nightlife he so casually sidled up
next to at the bar, as the opening lines of the record show: “Black out
the windows, it’s party time/You know how I love stormy weather, so
let’s all play suicide.” The Twilight Singers of today are a tight
group, with loud guitars, chorus vocals, and a smoky groove that ties it
all together. Samples are now a greater part of the vocabulary, as well,
from the crowd cheers on “Feathers” to the European phone ring sample
that is the backbone of “Esta Noche.” Several guests also punctuate
Dulli’s world of fun or gloom, from Petra Haden to Mark Lanegan. This
album belongs to Dulli, though, as his first true work after the Afghan
Whigs’ demise. He walks the walk, and he’s always talked the talk, and
for the first time he seems in the right place with it all. It’s all or
nothing on every track, and the focus shifts easily from narrator to
voyeur for whatever brings across the meaning more. One of his bands is
gone, and the other he’s burned down only to rebuild stronger than it
was before. There may be life in the old boy yet.

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