Blackberry Belle – Magnet

MAGNET no. 61 nov/dec 2003

— A.D. Amorosi

Anyone fond of Greg Dulli’s adventures — with the boozy, funk-rock Afghan Whigs or the glum Twilight Singers — will find themselves obsessively drawn to Blackberry Belle. Fan sites dedicated to Dulli use flowery language to regale their righteous hero: his breathy soul croon, the tender relationship between him and his piano. On the Twilight Singers’ debut and the first few songs of this sophomore album, Dulli returns this love in Beat romantic terms — preaching to the converted with a gauzy, nasal sound that’s equal parts Leonard Cohen leading Trail Of Dead and Billy Corgan singing Aerosmith’s “Dream On”. If this is your cup of tea, you’ll love the piano-pounding dramas of “Esta Noche,” “No. 9” and “Martin Eden”. If you’re looking for the overwrought emotions and blistering R&B of Gentlemen, leave Blackberry Belle alone. Instead, you’ll find yourself up against the electro-hiccupping, hazy shade of winter that is “St. Gregory,” the clippity-clomping, cold funk of “Decatur St” and the country soul of “Papillon”. That the latter comes complete with stammering guitars and a grooving Fender Rhodes means there’s a red light at the end of this autumnal tunnel. By the time Dulli reaches “Feathers” and the piano soul of “Fat City,” his voice is alive with slippery storytelling and sexy vocal twists. A few more songs like these, and baby, he’ll be Whigged all over again.

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