Amigo the Devil “Yours Until the War is Over”

Liars Club, 2024

By no means an easy listen, this is an unsettling, dark, emotional yet enjoyable offering; it demands your concentration but rewards your effort.

Artwork for Amigo the Devil album "Yours Until the War is Over"Danny Kiranos is professionally known as Amigo the Devil. The son of a Greek father and Spanish mother and raised in South Florida, Kiranos developed a lust for travel and unusual experiences and, on leaving Florida, travelled extensively, both in the USA and Europe before showing up in Texas and putting down roots in Austin. Kiranos’ songs are influenced by artists such as Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Mexican singer Chavela Vargas, along with musical styles as diverse as American folk, country, rock and heavy metal. His music is termed murder folk (which is a new term to this reviewer). Kiranos says “I don’t write songs for a purpose. The beauty lies in how people take them – the magic happens between the songwriter and the listener in that shared moment.

Yours Until the War is Over’ is Kiranos’ fourth full length release and, compared to his previous offerings, demonstrates how his songwriting is developing. ‘Hanging by the Roots‘ kicks the album off in a disturbingly dark style, setting the tone for the record as a whole. Underpinned by a slow, deliberate tune, with sparse instrumentation and lyrics such as “Are you bound to find hope Or just become a victim of the rope” and “The sycamore keeps growing As we water it with blood And holds all the secrets that we bury in the mud“.

Next up is ‘It’s All Gone‘ which enjoys a faster pace but lyrically the darkness continues; “When the only life that’s ever really worthless Is a death without a story to sell When everyone’s opinion is wrong to someone else When empathy has all gone to Hell”. Then we move on to ‘I’m Going to Heaven‘ which sounds jaunty, unless you concentrate on the lyrics and realise the song is about a ketamine-fuelled dream, where the singer’s love is murdered. More gripping stuff.

The Mechanic‘ is a truly beautiful, if heartbreaking song and the second single from the LP; it’s quite delicate musically and lyrically it tenderly covers relationship breakdown; “Darling, Darling, we’ve always been much more than this I knew you weren’t broken I just needed something to fix” and “We used to be happy, now used to be is all we’ve become”, it’s all very clever. ‘Once Upon a Time at Texaco pt. 1′ featuring banjo and electric guitars, is about holding up a gas station store, with no intention of harming people, however the actions of a staff member causes things to go awry: “But he pulled out a gun like a magician Well, I’ve also learned some magic through the years My bullet hocus pocus’ed through the back of his head and Made the side of his jaw disappear“.

The first single from the LP was ‘Cannibal Within‘; it deals with the battle against drug addiction. Again it’s very dark “eaten alive by the cannibal within“. While ‘Garden of Leaving‘ is extremely poignant, being about the loss of a baby and the impact this has on the parents. It’s a difficult listen, but a great song: “Our greatest joy had come into the world The same day she would leave it“; it’s so powerful. ‘One Day at a Time‘ is the musical highlight, with an almost carefree sound to it, featuring a notable acoustic guitar solo by David Talley. The lyrics, though speak of the heartbreak of a lost loved one, leaving the singer feeling all alone in the world; “So when time is all that’s left Cause I’ve destroyed all the rest I’ll throw away one day at a time“.

Overall, listening to this album is a little like watching an episode of UK dark comedy TV series ‘The League of Gentlemen‘, or a good horror movie; it can make you feel uneasy, unsettled and uncomfortable, while also experiencing an emotional response to the scenarios being depicted. This may cause you to stop listening, however persistence is rewarded with enjoyment and even fulfilment, due to the quality on display. The lyrical content, while dark and at times disturbing, is exceptional; the pictures that Kiranos paints with his words are vivid, his use of language very good and the wit employed at times, in mostly unexpected places is a joy.


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