My first stab at Rainbows in the Dark highlights the folk and Americana artist King Dude, and his latest Satan-tinged release, Songs of Flesh & Blood in the Key of Light. King Dude (real name T.J. Cowgill) is not your regular folkster; he’s cut his teeth in bands like Teen Cthulhu and Book of Black Earth and built up his metal cred. He’s been working under his current moniker since 2005, and now several releases later, the Dude has—at least for me—cemented his place in the Americana, blues and folk landscape.
If I had to describe King Dude’s music it would be apocalyptic folk. I mean, this is the guy who wrote “Lucifer is the Light of the World.” Cowgill’s never really stayed in one corner on his releases and this one’s no exception. Take “The Heavy Curtain,” for example: I’ve never heard any of King Dude’s work straddle so close to radio friendly as this does, with its simple keyboard, blues-driven drum line, and dark lyrics and vocal delivery.
Cowgill has always sung with conviction, and there’s no better example of this than “Death Won’t Take Me.” There’s so much pure soul and emotion on this track that, at times, it seems he’s going to lose composure and break down. But somehow, he keeps it together for an amazing performance. The album’s not all deep and dark, though; there’s also some fun to be had with the old west-themed “Holy Water”—whose sounds of horse heels clicking and rockabilly guitar recall Reverend Horton Heat at their best.
My personal album favorite is “Deal with the Devil,” not only because it’s classic King Dude, but also because of the story it tells of a love lost and a pact made with the devil to see her again, no matter the cost. Stellar songwriting and slower-paced songs have been a constant for Cowgill since his metal days, and to me, this is when he’s at his absolute best.
Since the early days, King Dude’s been one of my favorites across all genres and types of music, helping me through not only dark and emotional times but good times as well. To some, I’m sure his music and themes would be considered depressing but I’ve always found joy and solace in it. Maybe this is because I go to extremes no matter what I’m listening to, or maybe it’s just because King Dude is that damn good. But regardless, check him out: