Lanegan began exorcizing his blues demons all the way back in ’90 with The Winding Sheet, his solo debut for Sub Pop. He’s been toying with dark, haunting roots music ever since. What he’s lacked on those solo albums has been a songwriting partner. Enter Dulli, who isn’t afraid to stand back and let Lanegan’s deep, world-weary voice take over on half the tunes on Saturnalia — tunes that are fleshed out with the sort of hooks and bridges Dulli has always had a knack for, as well as strings, keyboards, and mournful background vocals. Of course, Dulli’s voice is front and center on the other half of the disc (Lanegan even sits one tune out), most of which wouldn’t be out of place in a Twilight Singers set. It’s Dulli sounding like Dulli at his best. And Lanegan delivers some of his more devastating vocal performances: “Got no mother/She can’t find me/Got no father/Gonna blind me/Little girls might twitch at the way I hitch/But when I burn/It’s a son of a bitch,” he intones against insistent piano, distorted guitar, and a heavy beat in “All Misery/Flowers.” It may not be brilliant as poetry, but it’s unforgettable as verse. And that’s the real power of a singular voice.
THE GUTTER TWINS | Paradise Rock Club, 967 Comm Ave, Boston | March 18 | 617.931.2000 | STEPHEN MALKMUS AND THE JICKS | Paradise | April 3
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