The Twilight Singers

Twilight (Columbia)

As a general rule, men should not attempt to talk to their women the way Barry White does, especially if those men are white, fat and drunk. Yet here comes Greg Dulli, he of the Afghan Whigs, safely pillow-talking himself all the way through Twilight, a new side project that's all candles 'n' cream.

"Baby, I'm going down," Dulli breathes slowly on the track "Last Temptation." "Get your hands up off me, girl/I think I know my way around." Coming from another's mouth, the words are shameless, arrogant. Coming from Dulli's, they are unexplainably smooth and warm.

Dulli's appeal always has been of the cheesy-dirty-sexy variety, which can be simultaneously repulsive and seductive. When Dulli sang for the Whigs, his lowdown lyrics were stretched out among the band's free-form arrangements, which served his not-so-technically inclined vocals well. On Twilight, the soulful tunes are concise and formulaic; normally, only Marvin Gaye himself can work his mojo in such tight quarters and get away with it. But Dulli's weaknesses play to his strengths, and here his vocal fallibility comes off as sincerity.

On "Clyde," one of the album's more exposing tracks, Dulli moans out to his lover in a moment of unbridled need, begging her not to leave his bedside: "Baby doll, where you goin'?/So much to do, so much to see/Baby doll, why you leavin'?/Come upstairs and get high with me." The final line, of course, is a pathetic offer, but it's sung with such desperation that it turns into an enticing one.

Dulli isn't trying to be someone else on this album, which serves its effectiveness. He's doing himself very well, and very genuinely. On Twilight, his authenticity saves him.

 
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