Dwight Twilleys career has been a series of near misses and bad management decisions, along with rough handling by record companies, but hes stuck with it -- hes a survivor. His recordings have always been well crafted, but Ive 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 Twilleys 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 its 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.
Tilleys longtime guitarist, Bill Pitcock IV, helps fill out the song arrangements, and Twilley can thank him for the much of discs 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 Twilleys craftsmanship in full flow.
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