Amigo the Devil’s 2018 debut album Everything’s Fine set the bar pretty high for goth folk singer/songwriter Danny Kiranos. Though some of Kiranos’ initial buzz came from the “Murder folk” aesthetic he crafted, that album made good on that promise, with well-crafted and clever songs that featured an emotional rawness. With second album Born Against, he doesn’t stray from that album’s template. His cleverly crafted and often quotable lyrics are once again a staple. But there’s a bigger, slicker production sound on this set of songs, building from a timid whisper of a song to soaring strings and Kiranos belting out his vocals with the showmanship of Elvis in Vegas.
Born Against features some of the biggest sounding songs that Amigo the Devil has delivered yet. The booze-laden streets of New Orleans are conjured by the brass-adonred “Quiet as a Rat.” Lyrically, he picks apart religion (“everyone treats commandments like more of a bucket list“), but rather than the adolescent blasphemy found in metal, his barbs are aimed more at the role society as a whole plays in furthering the regressive aspects of religion. There is a great tension to “Murder at the Bingo Hall,” with a variety of new sonic elements and some more traditional murder ballad lyrical elements. But his grim tongue-in-cheek approach has worked well for him thus far, and that doesn’t change here.
“Different Anymore” is one of the songs that more closely resembles those of his previous album, but the more polished production sets it apart. Yet he retains his touch when it comes to the songwriting. These songs are told more like stories and less driven by hooks, but they’re compelling enough for that not to stand in the way.
“Shadow” likewise recalls the feel of Kiranos’ earlier work, but with more of a drunken swagger and darker atmosphere. And with closer “Letter From Deathrow,” Amigo the Devil delivers a bittersweet banjo ballad, returning to the signature sound from which he launched his career. Born Against finds Amigo the Devil embracing new sounds and a new approach, all of which largely succeed. Danny Kiranos only continues to grow as an artist and a songwriter, but wherever he goes, the darkness is never that far behind him.
Label: Liars Club