The Twilight Singers – Powder Burns (2006): Review

twilight

Produced by Greg Dulli and Mike Napolitano
Label – One Little Indian

For former Afghan Whig Greg Dulli, Twilight is the perfect name for his musical collective. For his music, there is no day or night, no black or white, just an artificial limbo land between the sober, clean and clear thinking world, and the drunken loaded muddied world, and his writing seems to dissect both. On his previous release, 2003s “Blackberry Belle”, his songwriting and performance had reached its darkest. Fervent references to love as an almost necessary food for despondent self loathing, it could be hard work for both listener and artist. On the face of it, “Powder Burns” carries many of the former’s issues, but on a more positive note. Just prior to recording the album Dulli had kicked his drug addiction, had opened a couple of bars in L.A. which had obviously become his confessional, and the singer seemed ready to confront his emotional demons with a vigour yet realised. It seems he HAD to get this album out to the world because, in his own words of the second track “I’m ready, to love you” is repeated as a confirmation that at last, this is his time.

dulli

And yet the creative process for “Powder Burns” was fraught with difficulties. Having decided to record in New Orleans, the sessions began on the eve of Hurricane Katrina. The studio was almost destroyed and many of these songs are recorded and performed using portable generators. Fortunately, you wouldn’t notice and the prevailing difficulties seem to add a kind of legend to the work as a whole. The songs intertwine each other, mixing his indie rock past with Classic late 70s Rock, and some ballads, all showing Dulli at his emotional best. From the urgent wall of Guitars on the brilliant “I’m Ready”, to the powerfully performed “My Time (Has Come)”, to the sweetly produced Violins and Cellos on “The Conversation”, there is something for everyone to take a piece of, and it’s nearly all totally absorbing. The outstanding moment for this reviewer is the sprawling, angry and totally justified reference to his addictions on “There’s Been An Accident” which starts and ends with the line “Daylight is creeping, I feel it burn my face. I don’t sleep here anymore, so my shadow walks in my place.”

Take a chance on “Powder Burns”, and you won’t be disappointed. It’s Dulli’s best work by far.

8/10

Track Listing
“Toward the Waves” – 0:49
“I’m Ready” – 3:04
“There’s Been an Accident” – 5:17
“Bonnie Brae” – 4:46
“Forty Dollars” – 3:51
“Candy Cane Crawl” – 4:27
“Underneath the Waves” – 4:28
“My Time (Has Come)” – 4:48
“Dead to Rights” – 4:25
“The Conversation” – 3:04
“Powder Burns” – 5:52
“I Wish I Was” – 4:20

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