Chemical Burn Part 3
After making his name with the Afghan Whigs in the heyday of the 90s Seattle explosion, Greg Dulli slowly began putting more energy and time into his band The Twilight Singers. After a solo album (2005’s Amber Headlights), he returned to the Singers and crafted their newest offering, Powder Burns.With the exception of scattered help from Jon Skibic, Greg Wieczoric and Mike Napolitano, Dulli writes and plays most of the instruments on the album, ranging from mellotrons to standard guitar and bass. He shifts his vocals between two distinct styles: a raspy snarl akin to vintage 70s rock (the opener “I’m Ready”) and a smooth slow hum (closer “I Wish I Was”).
It’s his control that makes everything gel. His years of experience seem to have steadied his hand. On “There’s Been An Accident” he lets the music take center stage, building tension through the piano and drums until finally screaming “’til you’re crawling under” in the song’s finale. On other songs he works overtime to pour soul into his delivery, opting for patience and finesse. He sings in tandem on “Candy Cane Crawl” with Ani Difranco, “who loves the blue sky / who wears the dark eye” never losing focus or mood. The legendary Difranco also appears alongside Dulli on “Bonnie Brae” and the raging title track “Powder Burns,” while folk singer Joseph Arthur contributes vocals on “Forty Dollars” and “The Conversation.”
When Dulli pulls all these elements together, it forms an alt-rock of promise not heard since the early 90s. “Underneath The Waves” feels primed for a tremendous stadium performance and “My Time (Has Come)” almost dares you to stand up, dance, and scream simultaneously. Albums such as Powder Burns speak to the underappreciated overall quality of Dulli. If there ever was a shadow cast over his reputation in favor of his associates, let that shadow be removed and have a bright light shine upon it.