Blackberry Belle – Washington Post

Mark Jenkins
Friday, November 14, 2003; Page WE08

When Greg Dulli founded the Afghan Whigs 16 years ago, he abandoned film school for punk. But the Ohio-bred singer ended up an auteur anyway, first with the atmospheric and increasingly R&B-oriented Whigs, and now with the Twilight Singers. The liner notes to this shifting-personnel ensemble’s second album, “The Twilight Singers Play Blackberry Belle,” report that it was “shot on location in Los Angeles, New Orleans and Memphis,” and such songs as “The Killer” owe more to film noir than such early Dulli inspirations as Husker Du.

Dulli is not the first rock singer-songwriter to crave a widescreen sound, of course. Some of the album’s arrangements suggest the first generation of operatic-rock composers, and the dramatic piano intros and lonesome saxophone solos recall the epic mode of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.”

Yet such Springsteenian moments as the “You want to go for a ride?” chorus of “Teenage Wristband” are rare. Rather than break free, most of these darkly lovely songs just burrow in deeper. “If you’re in trouble, then I’ll follow you down,” sings Dulli, an apt summation for this set of downwardly spiraling funk-noir vignettes.

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