Silas J. Dirge

'Silas J. Dirge offers roots-infused poetry set to sparse arrangements
that deftly conveys the hidden beauty behind dark roots music'
- Saving Country Music
'Silas J. Dirge offers roots-infused poetry set to sparse
arrangements that deftly conveys the hidden beauty
behind dark roots music' - Saving Country Music

The Poor Devil


  • 'It was a need from deep inside. That's why this is so very, very good.'
    Read more: Maximum Volume Music

  • 'Silas J. Dirge offers roots-infused poetry set to sparse arrangements that deftly conveys the hidden beauty behind dark roots music'
    Read more: Saving Country Music

  • 'Silas' unmatched ability to perfectly balance vast orchestration and stark soundscapes is on full display here'
    Read more: Devil's Music

  • 'Dirge offers listeners their own personal Tardis, as if he were Doctor Who'
    Read more: Independent Clauses

  • 'The whole album is still dark and shadowy, but brighter sounds and stronger emphasis brings some shades to it'
    Read more (French): Adopte Un Disque

  • 'Silas J. Dirge masterfully untangles a skein of dark and troubling stories, without disdaining the romantic and poetic side of dark culture'
    Read more (Italian): Ondarock

  • 'The Poor Devil is a breath of fresh air that rises above the miasmic subject matter'
    Read more: Exposé

  • '[...] highly atmospheric backings which might be interpreted as a long journey through a metaphysical Death Valley.'
    Read more: Lonesome Highway

  • 'A fine dark-country album. Again Silas J. Dirge has raised the bar for this genre.'
    Read more (Dutch): Rockportaal

  • 'The Poor Devil is an intriguing breath of fresh air with songs in minor filled with dark poetry.'
    Read more (Dutch):

  • 'He doesn't tell a story, he immerses us in it and we quickly get caught up in the game.'
    Read more (French): Alors, on écoute quoi?

New album: The Poor Devil

Following the acclaim of his dark debut album Tales of Woe, Netherlands-based artist Silas J. Dirge explores new territory with his sophomore release The Poor Devil. And though the shadow and spookiness of Tales... haunts the background, Silas' latest album finds its footing deep in the waters of American country music.

These ten new compositions take a more sparse, raw direction, harkening to Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and other outlaw heroes he's listened to since he was young. As Silas says, "It was a natural evolution. I've always been into country music. I've listened since I was a kid... so it's deep rooted in me. I've always wanted to make a country record."

This direction dovetailed with the lyrics and stories of The Poor Devil as well. As he explains, "I had new stories that aren't as dark as Tales of Woe. I wanted the music to match that." Tracks like the opener 'Hang Me High' and the gritty 'Flowers on Her Grave', with their raw-and-rollicking acoustic strums, would fit perfectly on the score of any classic Western film. This is country music at its finest.

Yet fans of Silas J. Dirge will find plenty of the rich musical layers on The Poor Devil they've come to expect. The Spaghetti-western guitar licks and atmospheric nuances ever-present on his debut are on this record as well. And his knack for macabre tales and characters still find their way onto it. The standout tune 'Hear its Roar (When It's Black)' is a perfect example of this musical and lyrical concoction that Silas has become known for.

So as the much anticipated New Year unfolds, be sure to start it off right with this much anticipated album from a truly fascinating singer-songwriter.

- Justin Stover, Devil's Music

Listen to The Poor Devil

Apple Music
YouTube Music
Amazon Music


Silas J. Dirge is the moniker adopted by Netherlands-based alt-country songwriter Jan Kooiker. With mostly character-driven and story-based lyrics he explores subjects like death, religion and (lost) love while accompanying himself on a beat-up acoustic guitar.

His writing style can be described as traditional old-school country - sometimes with as little as two chords per song - lyrically leaning towards darker themes. He uses a minimalistic approach when writing, carefully selecting instruments and narrowing down arrangements to a bare minimum. Arrangements consisting of dissonant vocal harmonies, distorted electric guitars drenched in reverb, an old saloon piano playing sparse, slightly off-key notes or an even older squeaky harmonium. And sometimes it's just him singing and accompanying himself on his trusty, old acoustic guitar.

Silas is often aided by musician friends, with Harald de Ruiter (guitar), Justin Zandbergen (vocals), Nicole Schouten (vocals) and Thomas van Voorst (double bass) as returning contributors.

His debut album Tales of Woe (released in 2018) remains one of the most popular in the Dark Country and Gothic Americana categories on Bandcamp and its song On the Train of Aches got included in numerous Spotify playlists while an instrumental version of the song was used as a soundtrack for the USA short film The Final Hour Of Roger Lawrence.

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic Silas teamed up with USA-based songwriter Justin 'Stovepipe' Stover. Writing and recording at their respective homes they released the song The Grudge. A murderous tale about a friendship, betrayal, love and a sharp murderous axe.

Approached by the American record label Venus Aeon to contribute to their project Blood & Dust - a soundtrack based on the concept of a gothic western - Silas wrote the song Ghost Town exclusively for this project. The song features heavily spaghetti western influenced sounds and follows the story of a traveler arriving at a town with the idea of settling down, quickly discovering there's some funny business going on there.

Most of 2020 Silas J. Dirge spent working on his sophomore album, The Poor Devil. Ahead of it he released the single Flowers on Her Grave, a murder ballad about the ghost of Rosie and her revengeful ways. Accompanied by a homemade stop-motion video the song has a more tongue-in-cheek country vibe than its predecessors on Tales of Woe while retaining that ominousness present in all of Silas' works.
A second single called Devil's in Town is a rendition of the classic tale of selling your soul to the devil. A Faustian pact that unsurprisingly turns out badly for the protagonist.

The Poor Devil was released on January 8, 2021.


'If Devil's Music assigned letter grades, it would get an A+ and that still wouldn't be good enough for this deeply rewarding album.'
Read more: Devils Music

'This was a surprise in the best way, and we can't wait to see what Silas produces in his upcoming sophomore album.'
Read more: Pastel Wasteland

'There it is all Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, or if you want your modern versions, Phosphorescent and Oldham rolled into one.'
Read more: Soundblab

'His songs are vast soundscapes, becoming more layered and rich with each listen.'
Read more: Maximum Volume Music

'Silas J. Dirge makes Faustian pact with the Devil on new single'
Read more: Red Guitar Music

'Kooiker has a warm, ripened voice, that is a perfect fit for this valley of tears'
Read more (Dutch): Rockportaal


'I love Carel Willink's paintings, their surrealism and apocalyptic landscapes make me feel slightly uncomfortable.'
Read more (Polish): Soundrive

'We both have a preference for mystery and suspense.'
Read more: Local Spins

'Ghost Town, as on Silas J Dirge's Morricone-influenced c'n'w parody.'
Read more: Elsewhere

Blood & Dust: A Gothic Western
Read more: Venus Aeon

'A wonderful song'
Read more (Dutch): Luminous Dash