Amigo the Devil/Born Against/Regime
Four out of Five Stars
When an artist refers to himself as Amigo the Devil, it’s hardly unreasonable to assume he’s going to be sharing something unexpected. It’s hardly surprising then that this, his second solo album—titled Born Against—no less offers a series of surprises that finds this Amigo, otherwise known by his given name Danny Kiranos, jumping across genres, many of them well beyond most traditional templates. Heartbreaking ballads run up against weird and wacky novelty tunes, with hints of darkness and dread, irony and incongruity all added to the brew. Indeed, no two songs sound alike, or for that matter, even sound like they belong on the same album. It’s up to the listener to try and make sense of it all—no easy task considering the side roads and detours Kiranos travels under the aegis of his decidedly bizarre guise. And yet, beneath the quirky veneer shared by his warped alter-ego, there’s a crafty cleverness that lingers just below the surface while still managing to shine.
That said, it’s difficult to grasp all Amigo offers, especially on first encounter. The carnival-like “Another Man’s Grave” belies some darker designs that may not be immediately apparent on first hearing. “Shadow” sounds like he’s ready to tackle a tango, but here again, there’s clearly some daring and drama lurking within its realms. So too, the reflective yet resourceful “Quiet as a Rat” hints at a more macabre intent.
That varied approach brings with it some vivid imagery, a reflection of the thoughtful approach he takes to his craft and creativity. And yet, for all his twists and turns, he’s also capable of creating an emotional connection when a song seems to demand it. The wry and witty “Murder at the Bingo Hall” takes a pointed jab at life’s little ironies through humor and happenstance. On the hand, the album’s final offering, “Better Ways to Fry a Fish,” is a heartbreakingly beautiful ballad, one that finds its narrator addressing his ex by expressing his untethered regret and remorse. A more heartfelt confession would be difficult to come by.
Still, given Amigo’s eccentric approach, one may deign to take anything he offers all too seriously. He’s an actor after all, playing the role of both judge and jester. Yet at the same time, he’s clearly no fool, and beneath this veneer of mirth and melodrama, there’s an artist who gives full reign to intrigue and intellect in equal measure. .