Rarely can an artist reach into their soul and express it in such a devastating way that you feel their pain. For me, Nick Cave, Bruce Springsteen, Killer Mike, Lorde, Lana Del Ray, Dolly Parton and a few others have that gift. Well, you can now add Amigo the Devil, a.k.a Danny Kiranos, to that list. Usually, we would have an album review on Monday, but with all the top songs of 2020 lists over the past few weeks I have not had the time to go through entire records. However, do not fear, album reviews will come back in the next few weeks. Until then, I am going to keep the new music content coming. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at a sure fire top 10 track of 2021.
Amigo the Devil is described as everything from country, to murder folk, to indie folk, to a modern singer songwriter. Vocally, he reminds me of Colter Wall or Orville Peck, who take the 1940s / 1950s classic country vocal and give it a modern twist. In Amigo the Devil’s case, he takes that romantically classic country / folk vocal style and brings it to some of the most emotionally raw lyrics in the genre. Kiranos sings about a man who is fixated on suicide, but somehow finds the will to live within a chaotic and “fucked up place.” He sings about “biting a gun, but the safety is on” and throwing up “the pills I ate.” Even though he is trying to kill himself, something keeps him alive…something gives him the strength to survive through suffering.
The key line for me is “Without really knowing what I’m trying to write / Something like ‘Goddamn the man who said everything’s gonna be fine.” He does not want empty platitudes and surface level sympathy, but longs for true empathy. For someone to acknowledge his pain and walk with him through this “fucked up place.” It is through acknowledging the suffering that you experience true empathy. Simply turning a blind eye and glossing over it with “everything’s gonna be fine” is hollow. Even though Kiranos sings about how everyone dies in the end, I think he sees the importance in how we get there.
This song’s lyrical raw nerve is an excellent match with its warm musical brilliance. First off, Amigo the Devil is an excellent acoustic guitarist whose riffs are a joy to experience. Most importantly, he employs strings, chymes and drums to really fill out the sound. I think such elaborate string work and arrangements underscores his vocal power and gives the entire track an epic feel. Moreover, Kiranos’ voice is beautiful. He has that folky twang, but there is a power in his projection and deep range. His voice is so emotive and strong that it speaks directly to your soul. It feels like he is singing for his very survival.
I think Amigo the Devil is an artist to look out for. He has released previous records, but this new single, Another Man’s Grave, has a raw power that I have not heard from a folk based artist since Bon Iver’s record For Emma, Forever Ago, which rocketed that band, and Justin Vernon, into the stratosphere. Another Man’s Grave is not the most uplifting track, but its honesty and rawness cuts right into your soul. I am excited to hear the rest of the record and see how far he will go.
Listen to Another Man’s Grave