A highly enjoyable collection of kitschy, melodramatic Gothic Americana.
Danny Kiranos (aka Amigo The Devil) hails from Dallas, Texas. This fine record is oozing with dark humour. Waits, Cave and Cohen are stirred in liberally to these tracks; the three would almost certainly be nodding on approvingly. This is Amigo The Devil’s second album, following up 2018’s ‘Everything Is Fine’. Clearly, everything is far from fine for the poor folks in the tales told by Kiranos, but nonetheless there’s a lot of dark fun for the listener.
Opener ‘Small Stone‘ is slow to reveal itself, funereally paced in the beginning, but it sets a high bar as a noir power ballad eventually emerges. A bold move for a first track. Fortunately Kiranos has got the chops to follow through, as ‘Quiet As A Rat’ is pure Tom Waits/ New Orleans Second Line stomp, gaudy with vignettes of the beaten down and godforsaken, rounded off with a drunken choir’s serenade.
‘Murder At The Bingo Hall’ is folk slammed up against electronica, a completely goofed out game night for a paranoid, jacked-up lunatic. It’s hard to describe, but funny and unhinged. ‘Better Ways To Fry A Fish‘ is an unhinged vaudeville lesson in body disposal, couched inside a little, folksy tune. ‘24K Casket’ is a banjo-driven hoe-down; an earthquake chasm claiming multiple lives, poor and wealthy regardless. Entirely typical fare for barn dances throughout the years.
‘Another Man’s Grave’ serenades drunks at closing time and their pitiful lives of perpetual self-delusion. A dramatic string section takes flight as the anger and hopelessness consumes. ‘Letter From Death Row’ is folksy, lovelorn and as desperate as you might imagine. On this closing track Kiranos ditches most of the melodrama and sounds quite sweet and sincere in contrast.
One might argue that Amigo The Devil goes too far in the schlock and despair, but that would overlook the strength of the songs, their melodies and arrangements, which are always rich and intriguing. A blood-stained, beer-soaked, battered hat duly tipped to Danny Kiranos.