Blackberry Belle – RG Review
by Carl Ellis
The Twilight Singers’ album Blackberry Belle is one of the best albums of 2003. This band, formed in the wake of The Afghan Whigs’ 1999 break up, is a marriage of a variety of musical styles. Listening to the album, one can tell that frontman Greg Dulli was influenced by 70’s soul, classic rock, and a bit of techno. The Whigs, now somewhat of a cult favorite, were labelmates with Nirvana and Soundgarden at Seattle’s Sub-Pop. While those bands were clearly categorized as grunge, The Afghan Whigs could not be put into any clear division. This is the same problem in trying to define The Twilight Singers. Dulli loves being seen as a rogue and , I believe, his wide palate of musical tastes is what makes this album so special.
Blackberry Belle begins with the slow and dark ballad, “Martin Eden” and ends with “Number Nine”, a song of the same proportion. The middle eight songs, while not exactly all out rockers, are much more up- tempo pieces of aural delight. The songs “Teenage Wristband” and “Feathers” could easily be big successes if backed by radio and video stations. In fact, “Teenage Wristband” is possibly the best song of 2003. The song begins with a piano interlude which suggests The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”, before building into a rocker about adolescent lust complete with backup vocals from Appollonia Kotero of Purple Rain fame.
Greg Dulli’s lyrics perfectly coexist with the music they accompany. His songs of loss, longing, sex, and temptation flow flawlessly throughout the album’s 45 minutes. In “Feathers”, Dulli sings “You’re gonna crawl, my precious / I’m untethered / waving in the wind like feathers”, with the accompaniment of a sexy clavinet and rhythm section. This is the kind of music that one feels and not just hears. The listener is concerned with both the beauty of the lyrics and music.
If there is one album you buy in the new year, Blackberry Belle should be it. Light some candles, open a bottle of wine and crawl in front of the fireplace with your partner. This album will keep you warm and wanting more in 2004.
it’s nice to hear from mr. dulli again.
***here’s an update after letting the album “soak in” for awhile***
;this is great stuff. i can’t stop listening to it. it makes the first twilight singers album sound elementary in comparison. musically dulli has really outdone himself. i’m still not sold on the lyrics, but greg is truly in top form, no matter what i said originally.
;i like “blackberry belle” quite a bit, but i can’t say it ranks up there with dulli’s best work. i don’t really see the connection with the last twilight singers record. maybe this should have just been a dulli solo joint. this one’s a lot darker, a lot denser, musically. i guess it makes sense after conflicting egos forced two of the three twilight singers out of the group. i would have liked to see shawn smith and happy chichester back in the fold, and some fila brazilia action as well, but that would have been a completely different album altogether. i guess it was presumptous of me to expect the twilight singers JUST because the album is supposed to be from said group.
;but i’m really not complaining so much. with songs like “teenage wristband”, “decatur street” and “martin eden” you shouldn’t be able to. the album is a bit uneven, though. seems like greg used “st gregory” and “follow you down” as filler.
;taken with its faults, it’s still a nice record, and one of the best i’ve heard this year (being 2003). i just have unrealistic expectations for greg dulli. so if you like the whigs “1965” or the first twilight album, you’ll probably like this one.
Must buy this album again- wore the first one out
I am in love with this album. It is lyrical and epic. It evokes imagery from Dante’s Inferno and London’s Martin Eden. All this and you might even shake your booty a little. I listen to this album daily and it keeps unfolding like a beautiful work of art. I am worried that I might be oversellin here….no I don’t think I am. Also, if they come around again, go see them live. Best live show ever.