With only 3 members in this instrumental group, one might think that they would run out of ideas after a couple of albums or simply break up and live in obscurity. As it stands, though, the Dirty Three are one of the most consistent and interesting bands out there, despite their small number. Instead of getting more boring with each new release, they actually manage to nearly outdo themselves every time they put something out, whether it's the louder Horse Stories or the beautifully subdued Ocean Songs.
While they may never be a household name, the group also isn't one that started out with a poor album before working themselves into something great. As can be heard on this release, the elements were already in place (as well as a couple other interesting instruments that the group hasn't used as much of since) and they just keep managing to create excellent music.
With only 7 tracks, one might think that their self-titled release is about an EP length, but with 2 seperate tracks stretching themselves out over 10 minutes, it actually runs about 45 minutes long for the release. The disc starts off with one of these epics, entitled "Indian Love Song." Like the rumble of a distant storm, things start out quietly with a plucked violin by Warren Ellis and some sparse guitars and drums. Eventually, things build up to a rumble and the group fills in all the blank spots before a rather furious high point in the song in which even a harmonica adds a backup. On "Odd Couple," Ellis trades his violin in for a piano accordian and although the tempo and playing style of the instrument is nearly identical to usual, it gives the song an entirely different sound.
"Kim's Dirt" is a very meandering song by the group and it wanders out across nearly 12 minutes of time while Ellis coaxes some of the highest and most interesting sounds ever out of his violin while Mick Turner strums along with a fairly plain guitar line and Jim White rains down shimmering percussion behind it all. It's one of those tracks in which the violin has so much more emotion than most singers out there. Before closing out with two fairly standard numbers (including another one with some nice harmonica work) for the group, "Everything's Fucked" arrives as one of the most beautiful tracks that the group has ever done. It's sad, yet uplifting at the same time and shows that the group has always had it.
Overall, the album is a must-have for a fan of the group and even though they try a couple different instrument combinations that they haven't used in awhile, it's even a decent place to start if you haven't heard the group before. Of course, any of their albums are a good place to start, and it's a testament to their solid songcraft and musicianship that all their work is of such quality.