Wow… I mean… just wow. This album is a wonderful and tremendous addition to a Dogs D’amour discography that began with ‘The State We’re In’ 35 years ago. There will be those that may refuse to give this a chance, and that is really unfortunate for them. I would consider this the first proper album under the Dogs D’amour name by Tyla, Gary, Matty, and Simon even though they have been recording together for several years now. This album is truly made to feel like a Dogs D’amour album as opposed to a Tyla solo album or the Tyla J Pallas Band. It is not a secret that the last two new studio albums ‘When Bastards Go to Hell’ and ‘Let Sleeping Dogs’ were not everyone’s cup of tea, a bottle of jack…. or maybe I should now say bottle of red. Those albums really reflect a different moment in time where this feels much more like the follow up to ‘Happy Ever After’ in terms of style, sound, and approach. For me, this love affair started back at ‘In the Dynamite Jet Saloon’ which remains my favorite album of all time. The band was refreshing among the wave of hair metal bands that often blended together thanks to the other influences they incorporated such as the Stones, Faces, Hanoi Rocks, etc. Tyla’s lyrics were much more relatable to people like me who would try our best only to find out that sometimes the bad guys win despite our best efforts. Albums such as ‘Errol Flynn’ and ‘More Unchartered Heights of Disgrace’ are part of my DNA at this point. Over the years, Tyla has released a tremendous number of solo albums and projects as well as a couple of albums with Spike from the Quireboys. There has always been a difference between that work and Dogs D’amour albums which is partially where the lines got blurred in my mind on ‘Let Sleeping Dogs’ and ‘When Bastards Go to Hell.’ What we have here though is an album that has its very own identity but captures a true band effort and sounds like a Dogs D’amour album…. A damn awesome one too.
Getting the album started is a stomping version of ‘111,’ which will be familiar from Tyla’s solo work. This version though packs more venom and punch. This is a great opener along the lines of ‘Drunk Like Me’ and ‘What’s Happening Here.’ The guitars burn sharply in the mix with the outside production evident at the outset. The album transitions to the gorgeous ‘Black Confetti.’ The use of the saxophones here is perfectly placed, and the way they arrive after a brief pause at the beginning of the song is sublime. This is not your typical single by any Dogs D’amour incarnation and all the better for it. This is an opportunity for these Dogs to flex some musical chops and create a magical moment. For those of us that pledged, we got to hear just a bit of the up-tempo ‘Bloodline’ that rocks in a similar manner to ‘What You Do’ and ‘Lie in This Land.’ The bass by Matty has some added pop in the mix which really stands out at the beginning of the song. Tyla sounds sensational here. He would never win on any of those reality singing shows, but his vocals have always been more about character, heart, soul, and distilled from the finest blend of rock n roll spirits. I will take that everytime. I really love the guitar solo here by Gary as well.
‘Bottle of Red’ stands out as a future standard in the live show where everyone is singing along at the top of their lungs. Lyrically, I would say that it is like the uplifting cousin of ‘Satellite Kid’ as the music creates much more of a ‘Singin’ vibe from ‘Happy Ever After.’ The band adds some awesome saxophone here which creates some additional depth in the music. A Tyla spoken word ad-lib at the end is another very nice touch. I should mention again here that the mix and production on this album is excellent and truly showcases how great these songs are. Since I am reviewing the vinyl version, the midtempo ‘Everything to Me’ represents the end of Side One. Matty’s bass lines get a chance to stand out here as well as the tasteful guitar lines by Gary and Tyla. With a strong vocal hook carried by Tyla already in the chorus, the band adds some background ‘ooh Sha la la’s’ for good measure. What really stands out is just how happy Tyla sounds as these two songs feel like celebrations. Something I have not mentioned is that this album steers clear of the traditional ballads and acoustic numbers. This is a rock album through and through.
Flipping the record over, the uniquely titled ‘Chicago Typewriter’ begins with gunshots and sirens. Musically, this is a hard blues number driven incredibly well by Simon (drums) and Matty (bass) so that Gary and Tyla can add some great bluesy riffs to the mix which are complemented by a simple and highly addictive vocal hook. In some ways, this song recalls the best of where Tyla had gone on ‘Let Sleeping Dogs’ or ‘When Bastards Go to Hell’ but with a much more listener-friendly production style and mix. It provides a great rocking start to the second half of the record. The single in waiting ‘I Don’t Love Anyone’ follows with its tasteful piano and saxophone sounding amazing in the mix. This song should come with a warning label or two as I can’t help but find myself smiling when it plays and singing along. The loving message shows that even though good guys don’t win all the time; they can win from time to time so let’s take a few minutes to celebrate finding the love of our lives while we can. Up next is the title track ‘In Vino Veritas’ where the band brings in some more tasteful saxophone as Tyla tells us a tale as only he can. This is one song where I do wonder if these gentlemen revisiting Tyla’s ‘Nocturnal Nomad’ album recently added some new ingredients that had never really been on a Dogs’ record in the past. Lyrically, this song feels more like the characters and stories from that album as opposed to the characters we met in ‘Hurricane’ or ‘Baby Glass.’
As we approach the end of the vinyl version, ‘Monster’ slithers and struts out on a biting sustained blues riff. Over the course of these songs, the band really explores multiple musical avenues and back alleys with ‘Monster’ creating an awesome groove with added harmonica and organ. I love the guitar riffs and licks throughout this one with it becoming more and more of a favorite with multiple listens with a wonderful howl added at the end for good measure. ‘Movie Star’ serves as an epic finale that brings everything together over the course of its nearly 5 minutes. There are multiple vocal hooks that can kill at a long distance, great guitar work, rocking piano, and a great beat. The extended musical outro is not to be missed as the song eventually slows down for one last vocal before we hear the arm raise and the vinyl come to a stop.
Some people may approach this album with reservations, but I would urge you to check them at the door. This album exceeds every expectation I had and makes me hope that we don’t have to wait too long before we get a follow up from these guys based on how awesome this is. Tyla’s Dogs D’amour acknowledge the long history of the Dogs in many ways but more importantly, add to the band’s magical history with an album that can stand proudly with every record from their past. With two additional songs ‘Empire’ and ‘Fuck Off Devil’ added to the CD and download versions of the album, there really is no reason to not check out this album. Quite simply, this is a magical record.