January 14, 2005

The Twilight Singers "She Loves You"

Greg Dulli is a sexy motherfucker. His music has always been cool, and though some people I know insist that the man’s only got a limited vocal range, I’ve always contended that it’s not the range that matters—it’s what you do with your abilities that makes you great. Still, you can’t listen to any record that Dulli’s made and think anything less than “wow, this man’s voice is really, really sexy.” That Dulli’s made a covers record isn’t really all that surprising; his previous band, The Afghan Whigs, Dulli often indulged in cover songs, and like She Loves You, the gamut was often quite interesting. From Barry White’s “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe” to Freda Payne’s “Band of Gold” to the Wizard of Oz standard “If I Only Had a Heart” to TLC’s “Creep”—Dulli and company would turn classic songs (often soul numbers) into their own. Sometimes they’d come off excellent…sometimes not…but the same was true regardless of the result: the man loves good music. When The Twilight Singers released a single of Nina Simone’s “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” the enticing possibility of more Dulli covers arose, and I’m rather glad they decided to break out and do She Loves You.

She Loves You is Dulli’s take on several classic songs, some not-so-classic songs, and one or two surprises. As you’d expect, the large majority of these songs are from the R&B genre. Included here is the excellent “Black Is the Color of My True Love’s Hair,” and he subsequently takes on Marvin Gaye’s “Please Stay (Once You Go Away)” and George Gershwin’s jazz/soul standard “Summertime.” That he thusly takes on “Strange Fruit” is fascinating—especially as it’s an eerie duet with Mark Lanegan that must be heard to be fully appreciated. He also takes on the Blues with a cover of Skip James’ “Hard Time Killing Floor” and John Coltrane’s (!!) “A Love Supreme.” One of the best numbers on this set is his take on Mary J. Blige’s first hit single, “Real Love.” That song is one of the better songs of the early 1990s, and though The Twilight Singers have not attempted to recreate the catchy, unique rhythm of the original version, the lyrics still ring true and Dulli’s aching voice makes the song even more powerful.

The rest of the record is devoted to more modern numbers, and subsequently it is here that the record slightly falters. Sure, his take on Bjork’s “Hyperballad” seems promising, but as it’s a unique song that clearly belongs to Bjork, this version pales in comparison. Forgettable also is his cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “What Makes You Think You’re The One.” His takes on Hope Sandoval’s “Feeling of Gaze” and Martina Topley-Bird’s “Too Tough To Die” are pretty, but they’re nothing more than pretty.

Still, these weak moments on a record doesn’t damn it, and all in all She Loves You is a sultry, sensuous aural delight. It’s reassuring to know that Dulli’s still got it, and it’s even more thrilling to know that this is the first in a trilogy of cover albums. Personally, I can’t wait. If you want a record for lovemaking, then this record—along with the Twilight Singers’ debut, as well as The Afghan Whigs’ What Jail is Like and Uptown Avendale EP’s (the closest they came to releasing cover records)—should be your soundtrack.

And I bet Dulli wouldn’t want it any other way.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.thetwilightsingers.com
Label Website: http://www.birdmanrecords.com
Label Website: http://www.indian.co.uk

No comments: