by Colin Vallee (@ColinJBeard)
The world is a pretty fucking intense place right now. You’ve got fascists rearing their heads at every opportunity and your neighbor’s ugly biases are a flag flying proudly out their window. It’s getting harder to sit down and deep dive into an album. As an individual it’s hard not to feel completely powerless as the powers-that-be churn onwards destroying everything in their path. The myopia of those who have the ability to affect change is terrifying, and they make it hard to leave the bedroom.
Yowler’s new, incredible album Black Dog in My Path is not an escape, but a mirror to the conflicts of existence. Haunting and sincere, it conjures up dark images that fit with the Halloween season, but not in the fun way we’re used to. Maryn Jones’ voice is tender and feels just out of reach offering no platitudes promising that things will get better. However, there is some strange comfort in sharing a collective fear for and from the world at large. She is someone who is channeling all this worry, pain, and tension into quiet moments that no longer feel as innocent as they used to - the bathroom is a haunting place where one cannot hide from themselves; a black dog is no longer a wandering pet, but an omen of things to come. Everything possesses new meaning in this day and age - everything a conspiracy or a tragedy waiting to happen.
All of this weight is almost too much to bear on this album, and it finally buries Jones in the last song on the album, “Spirits & Sprites.” The song finds Jones asking, “Have you ever felt so bad you cannot cry?”
In spite of all this, the album is not hopeless. There is a defiance here, however futile, found in the welcome addition of electric guitars, drums, and synths. Jones has summoned a small army to stand against the weight of this world, with tracks like “Where is My Light” and “Grizzly Bear II” fusing Yowler’s folk sensibilities with heavy shoegaze noise.
The thesis statement of the album can be found on “Sorrow” where Jones states, “So if we make it through these times and more sorrow is all we find / I hope I can at least leave something behind / A small word, or a sigh, that’d be fine.”
With the direction those in power are taking things, and the dwindling years this planet has left for us, we’ll be lucky if all we can leave behind is a sigh - but honestly that’s better than nothing.