Seattle band The Walkabouts perfected their stylish brand of smoky, urban noir on this 1997 album. Along with the previous year's 'Devil's Road', it represents the pinnacle of their achievement.
The crepuscular creep of 'Follow Me An Angel' sets the tone, Chris Eckman and Carla Torgerson's hushed voices luring you into the city's fleshpots - "Though we ain't lookin' pretty/ There's some places open late/ Where we can go." Dramatic orchestral flourishes, a distant, wailing sax and disturbing, subliminal sound effects compound the sense of unease.
The bums, the losers, the lost and the lonely, adrift in the night: this is The Walkabouts constituency. The song's protagonists know that life is short and love is always over in the morning - "When the morning comes....the lies are cheap."
But compassion sometimes triumphs. 'Lift Your Burdens Up' offers a concilliatory hand to an errant ex-lover, but with caveats attached - "If you come back tonight/ You better have the guts to stay." The song starts magically - strings quietly fading in and Torgerson softly singing "Been a lot of rain out there/ Raining blind/ Summer's coming slow this year/ It's raining blind...." It's the sort of opening that makes one want to play a song over and over again.
'Unwind' is subtly erotic, a languid, intoxicating track vaguely reminiscent of 'No More Affairs' by Tindersticks.
'Prayer For You' is a lament for an unnamed friend lost along the way, someone who you intuit fell victim to the city's nefarious temptations.
Despite the frequently gloomy subject matter, the melancholy never overwhelms. This is because the songs are imbued with enough moments of heart and hope to maintain the spirits. However dark the night, The Walkabouts know that "Slow red dawn is gonna come."