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Now Hear This: A Thousand Times Brighter - Black Dog String Quartet

Rating: ****

Vancouver's Black Dog String Quartet is back with a new album, "A Thousand Times Brighter," out April 28, 2023. The album is a collection of nine new compositions that explore a wide range of emotions and styles.

Black Dog String Quartet's producer and engineer, Olivia Quan, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at just 25 years old. She had nearly finished mixing the album at the time. Her colleague, Tom Dobrzanski, finished the final adjustments to the album in her honor.

Heavy stuff.

I'm looking forward to having some java and giving this a deep dive. I'll report back after the jump. You always.

"All the Pretty Horses" is haunting and somber while conveying the band's ability to story tell through their instruments as well as some gorgeous vocals. Powerful. Track two is titled, well, "Two" and it's a definite change of pace from the opener. Sounding almost triumphant in it's intro before driving into a Cake-esque sing-talk that is more melodic than you'd think it would be. Fun track. "Rain and Shine" is next and it's a solid baroque-folk track that has a nearly hypnotic string section between the verses. "How I Remember it" is track 4. This one has modern musical vibes. I mean, this sounds straight from broadway. Repetitive in a good way, and it may be the most accesible track thus far to a mainstream audience. Track 5 is "In a Dream" and it continues the broadway musical energy. I love how about midway through the album, things took on a real narrative vibe. It almost comes off like a concept album, while still retaining songs that stand on their own merit. "Thompson" and "Summer Song" are both folky gems, with the ladder standing out as a dramatic diary entry of a complex season for the narrator. "Dizzying View" is the eighth and penultimate track of the LP. It bounces along and has perhaps the catchiest chorus of the entire record. The last track "Sea of Clover" ends on a hopeful note in spite of its somber energy. Truly beautiful and touching end to a well-played and well-sung composition.

Overall, I think "A Thousand Times Brighter" is a gorgeous listen. It's not gonna be for everybody, but if you like a folky string-pop album that captures hope and heartbreak in the best ways possible, it's a can't miss.

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