- 09 Feb 11
Rockabilly grunge from veteran mooch rocker.
The victim of a near fatal baseball-bat assault in 1998 and a recovered cocaine addict to boot, former Afghan Whigs’ man Greg Dulli is not one to sweat life’s small stuff. Five years after The Twilight Singers celebrated last album Powder Burns, he returns with another collection of Old Testament-scale musings.
If Dynamite Steps had a Facebook profile, its status would be set to ‘contemplative’ – reflections on life, death and desire dance within its dark grooves. Though such themes find Dulli raking over old ground, there is a definite attempt here too, to stretch his sinews. The artificial shimmer of ‘The Beginning Of The End’ and synthetic crackle of the title number betrays the presence of electronica musician Steve Nalepa, whilst ‘Blackbird And The Fox’ finds Dulli paired with revered folkie Ani DiFranco for a moody duet.
And, of course, where there is Dulli there is his latter-day musical shadow, Mark Lanegan. Dulli’s Gutter Twin adds his apocalypse-heralding vocals to ‘Be Invited’, whilst The Verve guitarist Nick McCabe plays Gram Parsons and unfurls a nice line in countrified-rock. And, though Dulli is now in his mid-forties, the throbbing rhythms and Mudhoney-echoing assault of ‘Waves’ suggests that the passage of time has not tamed him.
Sombre piano, needling guitar and the swoosh of strings provides ‘Get Lucky’ with its upmarket melancholy – it’s Richard Hawley gone grunge – whilst the closing title track builds for seven expansive minutes and trades in both damnation and deliverance. Throughout, our boy from the black stuff conjures up wickedly colourful phrases in a sandblasted croon. It’s the sort of voice that suggests its owner has some hard-won wisdom to impart. Best listen up.
- Live Review
- 25 May 23