Greg Dulli has one of this era's great voices. But whether he's powering the defunct alt-cult favorites Afghan Whigs or the ever-shifting Twilight Singers collective, his low, long sighs tend to sound like they're rehashing the same song. So the covers album She Loves You is just what the doctor ordered. Dulli's backing band includes the similarly golden-throated Mark Lanegan, and he leads them through a set full of certified classics.
Dulli's "Baby, please stay" addendum to the barely recognizable adaptation of John Coltrane's "Acknowledgement" isn't likely to find its way into future retoolings. The Singers discover previously obscure depths in Mary J. Blige's "Real Love"; the arrangement and performance culminate in one of the disc's transcendent moments. They rework Björk's chill "Hyperballad" until it radiates a new warmth. And their most impressive work results from their biggest challenge. Made famous by Billie Holiday, "Strange Fruit" stands as one of the 20th century's most morbidly poetic compositions. Dulli has written some creepy songs about the darkness lurking in the human soul, and he gets right to the heart of it, copping a riff from the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" to turn the song of a southern lynching into an electric dirge. Left to his own devices, Dulli hits and misses. He's much more consistent with a little help from his friends.