May 2005

Dwight Twilley - 47 Moons
Digital Musicworks International - 87925001305
Released 2004
Format: CD

by Joseph Taylor

Musical Performance ***1/2
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ***

Dwight Twilley’s career has been a series of near misses and bad management decisions, along with rough handling by record companies, but he’s stuck with it -- he’s a survivor. His recordings have always been well crafted, but I’ve often felt his music lacked the indefinable spark -- what Nabokov once referred to in literature as the "unknown element x" -- that makes great rock'n'roll memorable. His friend Tom Petty has that quality in such abundance he is sometimes taken for granted, but Twilley seems merely workmanlike, just short of truly inspired.

Or so I assumed until I heard Twilley’s newest disc, 47 Moons. He has poured into it everything he learned in 30 years of writing and recording pop music, and the result is triumphantly inspired. The strongest influence on his songwriting is the melodic pop of the '60s, especially the Beatles and the Kinks, but Twilley also plays music that is firmly rooted in American rock'n'roll. Petty himself would have been happy to pen the snorting rocker that opens the disc, "Better Watch Out," but it’s on songs like the title track and "King of the Mountain" that Twilley lets his musical imagination run free. He combines beauty, melody, and ambition in ways that are frequently moving and exciting.

Tilley’s longtime guitarist, Bill Pitcock IV, helps fill out the song arrangements, and Twilley can thank him for the much of disc’s impact. The recording is the only drawback on 47 Moons. It is flat and lifeless -- some studio ambiance would have gone a long way toward livening up the sound. A future remaster, perhaps. In the meantime, enjoy Twilley’s craftsmanship in full flow.