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Lilian Hak - Lust Guns & Dust

February 1, 2013

by Edwin van Hoof

Lilian Hak - Lust Guns & DustThe Netherlands keeps sprouting the most remarkable new music lately. Alongside contemporary classics such as Golden Earring, country pop classic Ilse DeLange, the small country offers a brand new set of classics. Quite striking to notice that the real gems are delivered by innovative women such as Qeaux Qeaux Joans, Caro Emerald and this Grande Dame of Western sounds -- Lilian Hak.

Lilian Hak first got noticed in 2011 with the release of the remarkable "Old Powder, New Guns" CD. An album packed with illustrious tunes carefully molded around classic movie scores such as Film noir and classic western soundtracks rushed by in a gritty setting, enflamed by a charismatic vocal performance and musical craftsmanship. It's this kind of craftsmanship which also set ablaze Dutch theatres during a following triumphant tour. Hak's stage personality, her adorable voice, and presence are a force to be reckoned with in the future.

On this new endeavor, Lilian shakes up the recipe once more, delivering some astonishing and renewing music. Her songs have a certain glance of the good old days, but also capture the dirt and grit of times long gone. Ennio Morricone himself would have loved to give this disc a spin!

"Lust Guns & Dust" thrives onwards and Hak and her band furthermore widen their musical horizon. It delivers a cocktail of songs which are instantly revealing their beauty, but can be explored with every following spin. Not only is this album an outstanding rendition of old school Spaghetti Western-sounds, Hak and her band also inflict the music with almost kitsch alike bravura. "Happy Land" for instance is as poppy as it is gripping, an instant hit single, much like "This Place is Burning", or the Tarantino infested darker "Misidou" (do we hear Dick Dale?). The songs balance the scale with great diversity. "Touch of Gold" hints the presence of Mr. Neil Young as where "Big Talk (For a Little Gun)" has a gloomy and dark feeling, much in the vein of the late Johnny Cash. Cash' ghost is as much present as it is the dramatic harmonica brought to life in numerous tunes of Morricone.

The gritty and dirty dense underground on which Hak pasted these immaculate tunes is perhaps the real beauty of this album. You feel the gravel blistering in a storm wind, yet Hak's bittersweet voice carefully enrolls a sonic landscape worth dreaming away in. Her whispering soulful voice also makes "Dish the Dirt" shines brightly, and drenches "Tone of Your Voice" in a melodramatic mood. Alongside Hak's exceptional performance, it is the collaboration with Belgian vocalist Ozark Henry which makes "Lust Guns & Dust" a true masterpiece. "This Place is Burning" and "Hold on the Fire" are exceptional duets, glimpsing the grandeur of the classic Film noir, yet are deeply rooted in soul and contemporary music. Both songs also provide an extra depth in the overall conventional thematic woven throughout this hit album.

"Lust Guns & Dust" is an album taking you on a journey through the wild west, straight into the burlesque clubs and Film noir theatres from that era. It has a damp, dark overhaul, but it shines through its crystal clear and sharp production. Clarity in darkness, much as a Claire Obscure painting... This album is one of the finest I have heard in years, and it offers something for everyone, without lacking a totally original overall feeling. Enchanting...

I see a saloon filled by cigarette smoke, an elegant lady performing onstage, while Mr. Cash and Morricone slam down their Bourbon, laughing loud.

95 out of 100