By Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor
[Double Double Whammy; 2018]
Key Tracks: “Where Is My Light”, ”Aldebaran”, ”WTFK”
Black Dog In My Path is indie-rock artist Yowler’s second album. Yowler is the brainchild of singer-songwriter Maryn Jones, and it’s morphed into more than just a side project of Saintseneca and All Dogs. Through this album, Yowler exercises great flexibility in the tone and style of the tracks, without pushing too far out of their self-made boundaries.
Many of the tracks on this album have a home-grown feel, relying on singing, acoustic guitar and nothing else, like “Holy Fire”, before the rest of the band comes in with electric guitar and drums in a crashing finish. “Spirits & Sprites”, the final track on the album, is another good example of this, almost feeling like nothing has been cut in the recording at all. The occasional extra twang of her sound and the squeak of her fingers on the guitar bring an authenticity that is harder to find in more filled-out tracks.
That doesn’t mean that Yowler can’t shred when they want to, though. “Where Is My Light” opens with a grinding guitar riff. It perfectly reflects the soft nature of her vocals and the backing vocals as she sings, “So now I sit in idle blankness, and a stillness I can’t take / I began to think in figures instead of beauty that we’ve made / And beauty’s gone.” The electric guitar finishes off the track with a triumphant shriek.
Yowler has an impressive catalog of references, from biblical ones on “Angel” and “Holy Fire” to “Aldebaran”, which is the brightest star in the constellation Taurus, or the “Eye of Taurus.” “Aldebaran” takes cosmic lyrics and swirls them over a churning synth melody and background vocals. As soon as “Aldebaran” envelopes you, it drops off into “WTFK”. The two tracks couldn’t be more different. What once waved now beats and what serenaded now hisses and spits, echoing the themes of an evil and sinister world as opposed to the celestial one from before.
Not everything is tethered to a reference. “Awkward” gently speaks over acoustic guitar and takes a break from the ethereal lyrics to speak on something we all feel. Yowler simply states “All this is awkward” and “How they offend you so / How could I have known?” bringing the album back to earth for a minute.
Before slipping into the final tracks, “(Holidays Reprise)” is used as sort of an instrumental intermission and introduction for “No”, with its soft singing and earthy clarinet melody. The clarinet continues into “No” and pieces them together, feeling like more of a five-minute orchestral suite than two separate tracks. It cleanses the harder feel of “WTFK” for the last tracks to prepare us for a soft descent.
As a full package, Black Dog In My Path creates a separate-yet-tangible reality that Yowler perfectly captures while keeping both feet on the ground. Its beautiful lyrics and compelling instrumentals boost this album past the average indie release.