Review: Amigo the Devil – ‘Yours Until the War Is Over’

Amigo The Devil should have won a Grammy in 2022 for his ‘Born Against’ album. Best New Artist; Best Americana Album; Best Album; Best Single (‘Murder at the Bingo Hall’); take your pick. Perhaps the Grammy folks weren’t ready for a tale of bingo and “…cocaine and Adderall”, or maybe they weren’t smoking what they were smoking that night in 1989 when they named Jethro Tull as the winners of the Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Recording award. Or maybe they don’t know what category to put Amigo the Devil (aka Danny Kiranos) into (or don’t have a clue, in general).

If there is any justice in the world though, Danny deserves to be up on that podium next February, desperately not trying to cuss, thanking everyone he can think of, because ‘Yours Until The War Is Over’ – ATD’s third full-length album – is his best work to date. It’s his ‘Rain Dogs’, his ‘Songs of Love and Hate, his ‘October Rust’, his ‘The Boatman’s Call’. It is legacy-defining.

Listening to Amigo The Devil is like diving head first into a universe of emotions. And the more you listen to Amigo, the more you want to keep listening. Most times, concentration is required. There are moments when the listener can zone out and soak in the atmosphere created by Amigo and his stellar band (‘It’s All Gone’ being a great example), but as a rule, it’s better to pay attention because the best songwriter around today is holding court.

The jaunty, good-time tempo of ‘I’m Going To Heaven’ (the percussive work is infectious, as are the Gospel-like backing vocals toward the end of the song) will get feet tapping, and fingers clicking, but here comes the dark, dual-meaning lyrics in the most wonderfully expressive voice known to man. What begins as a tale of revenge where the protagonist commits suicide to end up in Hell to kill the person who murdered his sweetheart (“I took some pills and went down to hell/Brought some wine for the devil himself/He said “that prick isn’t here, he’s up in the kingdom”/So I made a deal if I spent some time/Pouring bleach in a couple sinners eyes/He’d send me on a bullet train to the lord…”) develops into a twisted tale that turns out to be a ketamine-induced dream. Danny Kiranos at his mind-fucking best – especially when a horse snorts right as ATD declares “I hate ketamine”.

How does ATD follow that up? With the gentleness of ‘The Mechanic’ that’s how. Gun-to-head time, perhaps his strongest four minutes, ever? The kind of song that a casual listener hears on a Spotify playlist loves the romance of it and digs deeper into Amigo and discovers the track that immediately follows on…’Once Upon A Time at Texaco (pt. 1)’ and spits their coffee out once the story of a gas-station armed hold-up (to get money to buy drugs and booze) unfolds “I said we’re going to sing a song called the sound of silence/And you, just open the fucking drawer/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…”; some pretty dark shit right there, yeah? All played out with an insanely catchy banjo-picking sound, and segments that scream “AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION” in the same way that Amigo’s 2018 classic ‘I Hope Your Husband Dies’ does.

As with each previous ATD album, there are moments on ‘Yours Until the War Is Over’ (the album title is a reference to the love affair between Ernest Hemingway and his nurse Agnes von Kurowsky in the closing months of World War I) that are a tough listen. The brutally honest tale of depression, ‘Cannibal Within’, is one: “It turns out I’m depressed/They say I use jokes and joy to avoid the realization/But I can think of solutions for that/Just turn on the radio and cock it back/I just don’t wanna blow my brains out to Hotel California”, and the sublime ‘Garden of Leaving’ is another. Dealing with the loss of an unborn baby: “You were howling in the corner/While the doctor asked us questions/The name we chose is all you kept repeating”, it stops you in your tracks. Danny’s rich, beautiful voice is heartbreaking as the song progresses. A tough listen. But utterly gorgeous nonetheless.

Need something a bit lighter after that? Strap on ‘One Day at a Time’ for size, one tip though: listen to this one through a decent pair of cans because it will fuck with your head. In a good way. Likewise, ‘Stray Dog’ is so gonzo and catchy, that it lingers on for days afterward.

“And the Grammy goes to…Jethro Tull” – FUCK!!!

Available now via Liars Club/Regime Music Group, more information HERE.

Connect with Amigo The Devil HERE.

Review – Dave

‘Yours Until The War Is Over’ artwork: painting by Joan Lalucat

Danny Kiranos photo by Visions of the Abyss

Live image – Dave Jamieson

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