Reviews Murder By Death Big Dark Love

Murder By Death

Big Dark Love

Making a career in the arts is hard. The job description lands somewhere between self-expression and entertainment and there isn’t a sure fire way to know whether or not what you’re creating is going to be profitable until well after all the art is done and out in the world for public consumption. Complicating things further is the fact that if you devote your life to your work, there is no backup plan. Either you create art people like or you quit and everything is over…or over until enough time passes that you can release the remastered edition of your first album and get the gang (minus the drummer) back together for a reunion tour.

The harsh economic realities of a working artist often mean that what you’re creating is a brand and now more than ever you’ve got to know what you’re selling if you want to make a living. Over six studio albums Murder By Death have cultivated a distinct sound of whiskey soaked lullabies and up-tempo boot stompers. It’s worked for the band – their last three releases have been consistently solid if predictable and have won over a devoted fan base with a marketable tour schedule.

Almost fifteen years into their career Murder By Death have decided to take things in a different direction. It’s a gutsy move both artistically and financially, but the resulting album Big Dark love may be the band’s best work to date.

Big Dark Love takes Murder By Death’s blend of atmospheric alt country and strips it down to its essentials. The space recording allows the listener to focus on singer Adam Turla’s Cash inspired vocals or Sarah Balliet’s haunting cello. It also means that the moments on Big Dark Love that go big feel epic. This is most apparent on the album’s title track that features a two minute build to a well-deserved crescendo. Fleshing out the record are the disc’s stand out tracks “Send Me Home” and “Natural Pearl” that are sure to earn their rightful place as fan favorites.

On their seventh studio album Murder By Death could have easily played it safe. Big Dark Love breaks new ground for the band and proves their place among alt rock’s most interesting acts.

8.2 / 10Graham Isador
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