Blackberry Belle – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

3.5/5 Stars
— Ed Masley

Post-Gazette

Greg Dulli of the Afghan Whigs, among the better vocalists of his or any generation, is back with his second release at the helm of a new side project. And the better moments here recapture all the soulful drama of the Whigs at the top of their game. It may not rock with the explosive force the Whigs could muster in their prime, but nuance suits the ache in Dulli’s vocals, from the sad piano melody that underscores his rasping invitation to “black out the window/it’s party time” in the opening song to the sampled dial tone running percussively under “Esta Noche.” There are missteps here. The piano that opens “Teenage Wristband,” for example, has the distinct smell of warmed-over Meat Loaf. And the backing vocals and electronic window dressing on “Follow You Down” are distracting at best. But even then, you’ve still got Dulli’s vocals to carry you through.

There is one other quality that holds it all together. Atmosphere. The bummed-out twilight mood is so firmly entrenched that even when he hands the mike off to Mark Lanegan of Screaming Tree fame to do the honors Leonard Cohen-style (before the gospel singers kick in “Gimme Shelter”-style) on the album-closing epic, “No. 9,” the Twilight Singers somehow stay in character.

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