18 Feb 2021 - Thorsten
Dark Country | Release date: 08 Jan 2021
Silas J. Dirge is the onomatopoeic moniker of a Dutch singer/songwriter whose outlaw ballads really transport the feeling of a 20th duel scene on the streets of Laredo with hayballs flying across the path.
With the release of his second full-length called “The Poor Devil”, he shows why dark country and outlaw ballads will never die. He follows in the footsteps of artists like Townes van Zandt and Johnny Cash, but also more modern heroes like David Eugene Edwards or Conny Ochs. The interesting thing about the genre itself is the fact that musically there is hardly anything new under the sun and in a way the most important thing is the voice and the vocal delivery of the lyrics. The same can be said about “The Poor Devil” - apart from the final track “Dolly Shot” whose harmonium and electric guitar melodies are quite noisy and make for a very different musical landscape. It’s less 19th century wild west and more 22nd century futuristic city center where the enemies meet for their final shootout which is then dismissed as both see that they are nothing more than victims of a society which pushes them to the brink of insanity. And at that moment both find the way into the next cemeteries where they sit on one of the gravestones and look and moan the fellow enemies they had to bury.
Silas’ voice is really something as it got this little rasp like Mark Lanegan but also the sweetness like Blake Shelton. That shall not in any way imply that Silas is singing about mainstream stuff like grandpa’s gun or the typical radio stuff on country radio stations. His songs talk about inner demons, his own shadow that he can’t face, or the time he met the devil, which sounds a bit like a mix of Robert Johnson’s disappearance and “The Devil’s advocate”.
This is dark folk and outlaw country of the best imaginable kind and Silas certainly does not need to shy away from any other European artist of this genre.