Blackberry Belle – Playlouder
Where would we be – and I’m asking YOU, chappie in the black shirt with orange flames across the bottom – without Mr Greg Dulli?
The elder statesman of emo, the dean of the college of American indiepop, the big boy from the estate shaped like a Rickenbacker, has been flinging sporadic outbursts of soulful, pensive rock at our feet for more years than American Music Club have been missing in action. And, totally unlike the majority of his peers, he’s not yet showing any signs of decrepitude.
‘Blackberry Belle’is the second in a series of records under the “twilight” moniker; a name which possibly only coincidentally is an anagram of “tilt whig”. And like the supremely soulful final album from Greg’s Afghan Whigs combo – the irrepressibly ace ‘1965’ (from back in er, 1998) – this newbie is spiked with emotional semtex.
See, if there’s one thing Mr Dulli does way better than anybody else, it’s construct a musical scaffold that the listener can pour his or her emotions into. His music (and here it’s ably helped on its way by a multitude of musos including Mr Mark Lanegan) is gently inspirational on the brain. It positively encourages pictures and screenplays.
The ominous unanswered telephone that rings and rings and rings through ‘Esta Noche’ is pretty much a classic example of that. How much more loaded with imagery can a single sound be?
And what better way to get someone to turn attention to their emotions and feelings than by placing them in the heroic and comforting settings that pervade this collection – the lonely cross-state roadtrip, the great journey to the beyond, the brave solo voyage into life’s unknown?
Whether it’s the sleazy, country call of ‘Feathers’ or the chrome’n’glass Marvin Gaye soul of ‘Fat City (Slight Return)’, this is sombre, solitary, inspirational and life-affirming. Not evening twilight at all, but worthy of a bright, crisp dawn.
Yeah. It might sound like night-time music, but it’s more like first light to me. Feelgood music for imaginative people who don’t always feel good about themselves. Thanks, Greg.