The Afghan Whigs have taken some time off recording over the last few years, but lead singer Greg Dulli has stayed active with a side project he’s been wanting to be a part of for years. Dulli’s taken a much needed break from rock and roll and flashed back to the past for a soulful, jazz filled album as part of his new group The Twilight Singers. The idea for putting together such a group stemmed back to 1997 when he was getting burnt out from the Whigs constant touring and subsequent performing the same style of music night after night. Fans of the Whigs need not fear because Dulli’s side project doesn’t mean he’s leaving the band, just that he’s trying different sounds.
Standout songs include the gentle ballad “That’s Just How the Bird Sings” and the mid-tempoed, light drum-based “Clyde”. On “Clyde”, Dulli sports a deep, Barry White-inspired voice, giving the track a gentle and very soulful feel. Another highlight of the album is the horn section, featuring Corey Henry on trombone, trumpet player Kermit Ruffins, and saxophonist Roderick Paulin. That sound is particularly apparent on “King Only” and “Twilight”. The disc’s most edgy moment is “Last Temptation”, the only song in which the group sounds plugged in and almost ready to rock. They turn up the volume and bear blue eyed soul sound similar to Simply Red or Hall and Oates.
Listening to the entire album evokes a smoke filled lounge type of scene in which people are having a few drinks and socializing on into the evening. Despite the band’s perfect fit into that scenario, such a description also shows that the entire album makes mere background music. The Twilight Singers will appropriately head out on a club tour this fall, playing the dates with Whigs drummer Michael Horrigan. However, don’t dismiss the record just because it’s quiet. Fans of the Whigs through the most serious jazz listener won’t be disappointed with the high quality compositions and artistic excellence Dulli and company reveal on their debut.