She Loves You – Weekly Planet
by Mark Sanders
Afghan Whigs, the marginally successful adult alternative act Greg Dulli fronted until their breakup in 2001, had a knack for repackaging old soul and R&B tunes. It became most evident on 1992’s Uptown Avondale (where their version of The Supremes’ “Come See About Me” was impeccable), but frequent forays into decidedly non-indie-friendly territory yielded other gems as well.
The Whigs covered TLC’s “Creep” with nary a hint of irony. They did justice to another Supremes classic, “I Hear a Symphony.” And now, backed by a group of musicians almost nobody’s heard of (dubbed The Twilight Singers), Dulli offers us She Loves You. Production-wise, it’s still very plainly the Dulli Show, placing his cigarette-stained voice of heartache front-and-center. No mystery there.
But there’s more to it, as evidenced by some incongruent song selections — after all, who else has the audacity to put Fleetwood Mac (“What Makes You Think You’re the One”), John Coltrane (“A Love Supreme”) and Mary J. Blige (“Real Love”) tunes together on the same disc (but oddly enough, not the Beatles’ “She Loves You”)? Furthermore, who could stomach listening to all of these songs in one sitting? Dulli, ably assisted on five tracks by ex-Screaming Trees vocalist Mark Lanegan, makes each song his own, using the diversity of selections to sermonize his own heartbreaks — his grievances come in at least as many forms as there are songs here. But he also respects the original arrangements — before you hear the first utterance about catfish jumpin’ on the closing track, you already know it’s Gershwin’s perennially covered “Summertime.” Compared to the Whigs’ remarkable material of the mid-’90s, you can’t expect She Loves You to measure up. If anything, it reminds listeners that the old guy’s still got some things to say, even if they’re someone else’s words.