Blackberry Belle – Seattle Weekly
As frontman of Cincinnati’s defunct Afghan Whigs, Greg Dulli broke with college-rock tradition by airing an entire dormitory’s worth of dirty sexual laundry over his band’s soul-stoked bar-band rumble. With a sneer in his voice and grease in his hair, he made no promises to treat you better than the emotionally barren dickheads littering Huey Lewis shows. On Blackberry Belle, the second album by Dulli’s loosely configured Twilight Singers, the man proves he’s still got plenty of bad love left to dispense: “There’s a riot goin’ on inside of me,” he warns a potential paramour in “St. Gregory,” a queasy rush of acoustic guitar and twinkling piano. “Won’t you come inside, see what I see?” Since Dulli knows that dirty deeds come dirt cheap, what makes the trip worth it is how sympathetically he and his enablers wrap their playing around his singing. A current of mewing electric guitars snakes through opener “Martin Eden,” whose chorus blasts off when drummer Brian Young lays into his crash cymbal as Dulli describes a river “as dark as night.” “Esta Noche” is underpinned by a sample of a ringing telephone that gives Dulli’s guarantee of “neverlasting love” a ripple of real-time tension. And in “Teenage Wristband,” the latest in a long line of invitations to “stay up all night” and “go for a ride,” Dulli gets dramatic counterpoint out of backing vocals by former That Dog violinist Petra Haden. A compelling case for romantic recidivism.