While someone’s first thought might be that this is simply going to be Tyla playing guitar and harp singing the songs from last year’s brilliant album, you would be incorrect. ‘In Vino Veritas’ has been my most played album since last year when I first heard it. Those versions have really dug their claws into me and taken hold of my soul in the same way that the classics by the band and Tyla have. This is a total band effort though that is really quite magical. If we think back over time to the likes of ‘Billy Two Rivers,’ ‘Satellite Kid,’ ‘As I See the Poppies Falls,’ etc., the Dogs have never been ones to shy away from playing acoustic songs and giving them some kick when needed. This collection of Dogs are simply on a roll with this being the next perfect feather in their cap.
In terms of the songs, everything follows the same running order from last year’s full blown electric album. Many of you reading this will have heard ‘111’ acoustically in the past on the ‘Bloody Hell-Fire’ album and others spots, but this album is significantly different. This one feels a little grittier with the great piano in the background giving it a bit more color. The chorus is still huge and sets the stage for an album that really comes alive in the darkness of night. ‘Black Confetti’ begins with piano and the opening lines before the rest of the band join. The opening lines certainly paint a picture with the song feeling like it could have been lifted from ‘A Graveyard of Empty Bottles.’ The backing vocals are exquisite, and this is simply a great Dogs song. Next up, we have ‘Bloodline’ which took the longest for me to warm up to on the electric version of the album. It gets some swing here, and the added organ is an awesome touch. The chorus seems to carry more weight here for me. The piano that gets added with the organ in the second verse jumps out of the speakers. This song really shines more in this format for my tastes.
Dogs classic in waiting ‘Bottle of Red’ has already proved to be a live favorite. If you have been collecting the b-sides, you will already have an acoustic version, but that version is really not a full band version like we have here. This one still bounces like the electric version with the whole band rocking. This feels a bit like ‘She Thinks Too Much of Me’ with some similar country sounding guitar licks. With everyone singing the chorus, this is the sound of a band lost in a glorious moment. I was really curious how ‘Chicago Typewriter’ might be presented as it is another of the hardest hitting from the electric album. We have no sirens welcoming this version. Lyrically, this is the simplest the Dogs have ever been with the vocals really being more of an additional instrument. This version also kicks butt with Tyla in prime form. The haunting group vocals add to the ambiance of the song with the song gaining in intensity as it grows. The celebratory, jubilance of ‘Empire’ is slowed down here, with the electric guitar riffs sizzling on the acoustic frame. This one never fails to put a smile on my face with Tyla again laying down an awesome lead vocal while the band adds in a lot of ‘Woah’s’ in the back of the mix. It provides a great close to the first half of the album.
Kicking off Side 2, ‘Everything to Me’ feels like it has more teeth here than on the electric version, even though it remains a midtempo jewel. The ‘sha la la’s’ again providing an extra element to the song with the chorus being another one that compels a singalong. It also hits on an element the Dogs have had since I first heard them over three decades ago. The lyrics hit the heart and soul. They are real and feel tangible. The first song I got to hear from this album was ‘Fuck Off Devil,’ and it showcased how different some of these songs would ultimately feel. This is an acoustic blues assault that adds tempo and attitude to the original. This feels like walking in on a jam session where the spirits are in full effect. As much as I enjoy the electric version, this acoustic version could have just as easily fit on that album as the slow blues break it gave the electric version, it flips the switch here and gives the acoustic version a blast. Another Dogs classic in waiting ‘I Don’t Love Anyone’ follows and showcases that a happy Tyla can write one heck of a love song. This also showcases that I really cannot say which version of the album is “better” because, at the end of the day, these are 12 awesome songs that are done two different ways by a band that is swimming in a pool of perfect chemistry.
Approaching the last three songs remains bittersweet because it means the album is ending, one of my favorites from the electric version ‘In Vino Veritas’ remains a magical piece of music. This version reminds me more of something that could have been on ‘The Life and Times of a Ballad Monger.’ I love how the instruments get added into the mix as it goes with the horns coming to life. The guitar picking here pops as well. The bluesy ‘Monster’ opens feeling more like a blues standard from the likes of Wille Dixon. The harmonica and piano filling out the song and working perfectly with the groove. ‘Movie Star’ concludes the album with an upbeat acoustic rocker that serves as a great closer. The closing lines here connect in a similar way to those last lines on ‘She Put It In Here Arm’ did.
Our Dogs on this album remain the same that they have for the last several years which has only made their output more awesome in my opinion. We have:
Tyla: Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica
Gaz: Guitar, Slide, Backing Vocals
Matty: Bass, Harmonica, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Scotty: Piano, Keys,Organ
In addition, Phil Cassidy plays Mandolin, and Ian Douglas handles the Saxophone.
This album was announced around the time the electric album launched, and the wait was well worth it. ‘In Vino Veritas’ has constantly found itself as my go to album for the past 9 or 10 months, and I have a strong suspicion this one will be the exact same way. You can pair it with the new ‘A Graveyard of Empty Bottles’ for an acoustic double album blowout or mix and match it with the original album. At the end of the day, the Dogs catalog has continued to grow with this album being another awesome addition to the discography. I think it is a must own for Dogs fans and anyone else who enjoys great songs with an acoustic frame but venom in the blood.