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Sarah Tomlinson

The Twilight Singers: Blackberry Belle

Throughout the ’90s, Greg Dulli carried the Afghan Whigs to critical acclaim and cult status largely on the force of his personality. He was aggressive, embittered, and bleakly honest about the nasty things that people do in the name of love on a half-dozen albums that developed the band’s sound from basic guitar rock to an R&B-dusted sophistication. Dulli now reemerges with “Blackberry Belle,” his second album with the Twilight Singers, a shifting group of musicians first assembled as an Afghan Whigs side project. He quickly locates listeners in Dulli territory on album opener “Martin Eden,” a loose, mid-tempo rocker that finds him crooning “black out the windows, it’s party time/ You know how I love stormy weather/ So let’s all play suicide.” While the songs’ subjects are those Dulli knows best — desperate lovers taking long drives, drinking too much, and betraying each other — he pushes his musical range, incorporating R&B vocal stylings, funk rhythms and sophisticated instrumentation. His voice grows husky over a strutting guitar on “Decatur St.,” and swings with a jaunty melody over twanging banjo, low rider bass and lyrical strands of clavinet keyboard on “Papillon.” These are more beautifully rendered tales of the dark side from a menacing master of seduction.