By Greg Dulli
Amber Headlights is the first solo record from Greg Dulli, ex-singer/songwriter of the criminally underrated grunge/soul outfit The Afghan Whigs, and founder of the excellent (and still together) Twilight Singers.
Written in 2001, between the release of the debut Twilight Singers' record and its follow up in 2003 ("Blackberry Belle"), "Amber Headlights" is a snapshot of Greg Dulli in a transitional stage. Dulli even admits this on the sleeve notes, "What you have here are my days in the wilderness trying to make sense of my first foray into recording without a net."
What is interesting about this record is that some of the songs included on the album also feature in a different guise on "Blackberry Belle" which shows that these songs were very much work in progress. This is where the problems for this album begin. It's hard not to think of this album as a collection of unfinished and unrefined songs, of which some crop up as better versions on later releases. And there are several of them.
Saying this, there are some great tracks on Amber Headlights, boosted by the fact that Dulli's voice sounds stronger than ever. Opener "So Tight" is a sexy little number with Dulli reverting back to the sound of the Whigs around the 1965 soul era. Second track "Cigarettes" is a Twilight Singers track in another form (featuring as "Follow You Down" on "Blackberry Belle") and again has the Afghan Whigs treatment. In general the majority of this album does sound like what The Afghan Whigs might produce if they were to have reformed, but in truthfulness there is little on Amber Headlights that would rival The Whigs back catalogue.
Greg Dulli does little to cover new ground that he hasn't already addressed on records previous to "Amber Headlights", both with The Whigs and The Twilight Singers. Quite why this record has been released at all is a puzzle in itself and what it achieves is up for debate. Is it for the fans or merely for Dulli to say he's finally released a solo record? The idea of The Afghan Whigs reforming is probably what the old loyal fans all would would want. What they'll get is another Twilight Singers record due in May and that's good enough for now.