Blackberry Belle – Compass
Lake State’s The Compass
Greg Dulli made some great music with the Afghan Whigs and he continues to do so with The Twilight Singers on their album Blackberry Belle. Dulli has an amazing skill at writing songs about things like suicide and alleyway beatings, but also at making them seductive and attractive not to mention funky as hell.
“Martin Eden” opens slowly with the line “Black out the windows/it’s party time/you know how I love stormy weather/so, let’s all play suicide”. Dulli’s voice unfurls like a snake, slinking about ready to strike. This track sets the stage for a dark adventure through his weird mind.
“Teenage Wristband” details the mind of a rebellious young woman as she has “sixteen hours to burn and I’m gonna stay up all night.” “St. Gregory” hints at Dulli’s personal problems of late (“I heard your woman left you-/I heard you quit your band”), with murmered vocals as the guitar gently strums and the beat builds.
While the music is dark, it has amazing variety and joy to it and Dulli displays a proficiency to recruit just the right musicians for the right songs. He is the only constant player from song to song, sort of a grand orchestrater organizing his band. The most notable guest is Mark Lanegan who provides his trademark voice to the album closer “Number Nine”.
Despite the darkness of its content and packaging, the whole thing works as a catharsis for Dulli and so the resulting product is a work of great passion and rocking music. The Afghan Whigs may be gone, but Twilight singers more than take up the slack. Just remember to keep the lights on.