Sorry brosephs, this King Dude’s not here to rule the butt-chugging masses—he’s too busy spinning fire ‘n’ brimstone tales of dark, gothic Americana on his second LP, Burning Daylight. Unlike, say, Sixteen Horsepower’s David Eugene Edwards, though, who pounds a similar pulpit, King Dude (née T.J. Cowgill) is more a chronicler of doom and gloom than a proselytizer trying to save souls. The distorted blues of “Vision in Black” swims in seas of blood and “visions of fire”. Meanwhile, “Satan’s in the cornfield starting fires” on the thrumming “Jesus in the Courtyard”.
It’s all appropriately spooky, though Cowgill’s tendency to “sing” like Mark Lanegan doing an impression of Tom Waits suffering from laryngitis can be a bit of a distraction, obscuring some of the gothic weirdness of his songs. Really, Cowgill’s at his best when he trades the croak in for a croon and delivers some warped pre-Beatles rock ‘n’ roll that would get David Lynch’s toes tapping: “You Can Break My Heart”, “I Know You’re Mine” and the closing prayer, “Lord I’m Coming Home” (“I’ll see you in the Kingdom of Light when our souls meet again”), point a viable way out of the hell of Cowgill’s own making.