Amigo the Devil steals the souls of listeners with latest album, ‘Yours Until the War is Over’

Amigo the Devil steals the souls of listeners with latest album, ‘Yours Until the War is Over’

Let’s get something out of the way up front, prior to seeing Amigo the Devil at the Shamrock Rebellion with Flogging Molly, I was unfamiliar with him and had never seen nor heard of him. After seeing Amigo the Devil at Shamrock Rebellion, I was blown away! From the second he took the stage with his band, I was immediately sucked in. As the set went on, I was transported to deeper levels of humorous shock and absolute joy! And when the set ended, I thought “Holy crap! Why have I not heard of this band before? Goddamit!” (a nod to “Once Upon a Time at Texaco pt. 1). If you are unfamiliar with Amigo the Devil like I was, finish reading this, grab a drink, turn off the lights, throw on some headphones, and listen to his latest album, Yours Until the War is Over, NOW! 

I was trying to describe this album and its style to my son, who is a punk rock musician, a musical genius himself, and a radio show host. He asked who they sounded like, and I sat and pondered that question for several minutes, and all I could come up with was “if Gogol Bordello, Tenacious D, Johnny Cash, and the Barenaked Ladies got together for a jam session over a table full of drugs and endless cases of beer and whiskey, what you would get would be…actually, it’s music I could easily see being the soundtrack for the next Tarantino flick. Nah, you know what, I cannot compare it to anything, it’s just Amigo the Devil, and that is way more than enough!” One of the most striking aspects of this album is Amigo the Devil’s ability to blend genres seamlessly. Folk, Americana, old school western, and even some elements of punk rock converge in a truly unique sound that defies categorization. Each song is a testament to his versatility as a musician and storyteller, as he effortlessly transitions from delicate acoustic ballads to foot-stomping anthems without missing a beat.

But perhaps the most impressive aspect of Yours Until the War is Over is its lyrical depth. Amigo the Devil (aka Danny Kiranos) has a rare gift for crafting lyrics that are both deeply personal and universally relatable. Themes of love, loss, redemption, and resilience flow throughout the album, and draw listeners in.

Storytelling is at the heart of great folk music, and Amigo the Devil crafts a captivating narrative, song after song, that resonates and shows his true musical poetic genius.

This album showcases his storytelling expertise, painting vivid portraits of characters grappling with the complexities of life and loss. This is a rare skill and so openly welcomed in a world of bubble gum pop music that bombards our ears these days. But let me also add this so it does not get lost in my rhapsodic waxing about the lyrical and stylistic skills of Kiranos, he is one hell of a musician with an incredible voice.

With an album title that references author Ernest Hemingway, singer/songwriter Kiranos says, “I don’t really know what to say about this album because it was such a positive and free experience surrounding the creation of it. The idea that all we have are positive memories regarding songs exploring seemingly hopeless and regretful, often traumatic situations won’t make sense to a lot of people but maybe that’s the whole point of the record. Yours Until the War is Over… although a reference to the vibrant yet fragile connection between Hemingway and Nurse Agnes, it isn’t their story feeding the songs, just a road map for every scenario collected here. I can’t tell if this record was the war or the love story but now that we’re through it, it’s not ours anymore. We’re so damn grateful to have gone through it either way.” This is such an understatement as this album transports the listener through the ups and downs life has to offer emotionally and leaves them longing for more. And yes Amigo, this album is no longer yours alone, it’s now part of all who listen to it! 

There are some absolute gems on this album that I could listen to on repeat…and I have. While this album is great from start to finish, and really should be listened through to experience the full narrative and emotional journey, there are several songs that are true stand outs. For me, the first several tracks on the album; 1. “Hanging by the Roots”, 2. “It’s All Gone”, 3. “I’m Going to Heaven”, and 5. “Once Upon a Time at Texaco (pt. 1)” are fantastic, and a perfect introduction to the incredible talent that is Amigo the Devil. Of course, I would be remiss if I did not include the emotionally powerful and tragically sad “Garden of Leaving”. 

First, is the opening track “Hanging by the Roots”. This is an emotional and introspective exploration of life’s struggles and the inevitability of fate. Through pure storytelling and emotive lyrics, the song delves into the complexities of human existence with raw honesty and depth without telling the full story. This is something Hemingway himself was known for, the Iceberg Theory. Whether Kiranos taps into this intentionally or not, its effect is profound in this song. Overall, “Hanging by the Roots” is a masterful piece of storytelling and songwriting that resonates on a profound level. Its exploration of life, death, and the human experience is both poignant and thought-provoking, leaving an impression on anyone who listens. 

Second, “It’s All Gone” is a thought-provoking and introspective piece that delves into themes of mortality, morality, and the human condition. With its evocative lyrics and swaying melody, the song invites listeners to contemplate the nature of existence and the meaning we ascribe to our lives. The opening lines immediately set the tone, questioning the significance of actions and the value of life itself. The imagery of a hammer driven by purpose and the notion of a life without a story to tell poignantly convey the idea that true worth is found in the experiences we accumulate and the tales we leave behind. As the song progresses, it explores the juxtaposition between civilization and savagery, highlighting the thin line that separates the two. The allegory of the Commodore and the cannibal underscores the inherent complexities of human nature and the capacity for both empathy and brutality while surviving.

Amigo the Devil’s lyrics are rich with symbolism and metaphor, inviting listeners to reflect on their own perceptions of morality and the inevitability of change. 

Third on the album is an absolute classic. “I’m Going to Heaven” is a darkly humorous and thought-provoking exploration of love, revenge, and the afterlife. With its gritty lyrics and catchy melody, the song captivates listeners from start to finish, offering a unique blend of storytelling and musical prowess, and of course the humorous ending. Straight out of a spaghetti western stylistically, the song begins with a raw and introspective reflection on loss, as the protagonist grapples with the pain of a love lost. Laden with emotion and fueled by substances, the lyrics paint a vivid picture of heartbreak and despair, setting the stage for the twisted journey that follows. As the narrative unfolds, we are taken on a journey through the realms of the afterlife, as the protagonist seeks vengeance against the one who wronged him. The imagery is vivid and evocative, from bargaining with the devil to confronting god at the gates of heaven itself, each verse is filled with dark humor and biting wit. Pay attention to the lyrics from start to finish and just smile. 

Jumping to the fifth track, “Once Upon a Time at Texaco (pt.1)” is a gripping narrative-driven track laden with dark humor that plunges listeners into a world of desperation, chaos, and unexpected twists. With its storytelling and lyrics, the song transports audiences to the heart of a tense and unpredictable situation. The song opens with a scene familiar to many, a group of friends enjoying a party when it runs out of supplies. However, the mood quickly shifts as a seemingly innocuous comment leads to a fateful decision. What follows is a gripping tale of a gas station robbery gone awry, told with dark humor and a sense of impending doom. Amigo the Devil’s storytelling prowess is on full display once again in this track as he weaves together moments of tension, violence, and introspection, all with dark humor. Musically, the song is driven by a pulsating rhythm and western style guitar and banjo that perfectly complement the intensity of the lyrics. The sparse instrumentation allows the vocals to take center stage, drawing listeners deeper into the narrative with each verse, and ironically, it was a great sing along during the live show!  

While every song is truly a standout on its own and as a collective, evoking various emotional highs and lows, two songs in particular take the album into darker and more tragic places. First is “Barrel and Staghorn”. This is an instrumental with what has been identified as a 911 call sampled throughout. But the call’s content is often just shy of being truly clear and understandable. What is very apparent is the absolute pain and emotion throughout the song. Another simply powerful and moving song is the “Garden of Leaving”. Trigger warning, this song is about the loss of a child. 

“The Garden of Leaving” is a poignant and emotionally devastating exploration of loss, grief, and the fragility of human existence. Yes, I know, we writers often go over the top with our descriptive adjectives and evocative phrasing, but let me tell you, as a parent who went through multiple miscarriages, this song hits hard. With its gorgeous guitar strumming, melody, and raw, introspective lyrics, the song delves into the depths of sorrow with heartbreaking honesty and vulnerability. From the opening lines, “I saw the beauty of the harbor, And the stillness of the water, I wondered if our daughter could also see it” listeners are immediately drawn into a world of profound sadness and loss. The imagery of a couple grappling with the loss of their child is both vivid and evocative, painting a picture of overwhelming despair and heartache. As the song unfolds, we are taken through the couple’s grief-stricken journey, from the hospital room to the empty nursery, and finally to the solitude of their home.

Each verse is filled with raw emotion and gut-wrenching honesty, as the protagonists wrestle with the enormity of their loss and the shattered dreams that accompany it.

But perhaps the most devastating aspect of the song is its exploration of the universal human experience of grief and loss. As the protagonists grapple with the agonizing question of whether they will ever be able to move on from their pain, listeners are reminded of the profound and enduring impact of love and loss. Whether or not the story has direct significance to Kiranos, or if this is just an example of his brilliance in being able to delve into the unimaginable pain involved in losing a child doesn’t matter. “The Garden of Leaving” is a tragically sad and moving song that leaves an indelible mark on the listener’s heart. It stands as a testament to Amigo the Devil’s talent as a songwriter and storyteller, and it is sure to resonate with anyone who has experienced the pain of losing someone they love. Let me tell you, this song makes me cry. No joke. 

While I have only pointed out about half the songs on the album, the rest should not be ignored. Each as just a brilliant as the other. This is one of those dichotomous moments where I can and cannot say the sum of parts is greater than whole, because while it is, it isn’t. Goddammit Schrodinger!!! Just do yourself and favor and enjoy the album. Oh, and let me know if you sold your soul to Amigo the Devil like I have!

In a musical landscape often dominated by superficiality, conformity, and autotune, Yours Until the War is Over stands as a beacon of authenticity, true artistic talent, and individuality. Amigo the Devil has created something truly special with this album, and it’s a testament to his talent and passion as a musician and storyteller. Whether you’re a longtime fan or new to his music, Yours Until the War is Over is an essential addition to any music lover’s collection.

Artist Links: Website | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

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Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.

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