Murder By Death - Big Dark Love (Cover Artwork)

Murder By Death

Big Dark Love (2015)

Bloodshot Records

Murder By Death are releasing the latest chapter in their beautiful, unique and haunting tome. Rooted in gothic Americana, storytelling and wanderlust Big Dark Love is a powerful shifting soundscape filled with words of unconventional love stories.

Beginning with urgency and desire, “I Shot an Arrow” cries out to the night aching of a young boy’s need to leave town. As the album plays on, “Strange Eyes” moves forward with child-like wonder until title track “Big Dark Love” saunters in with haunting rhythms and blue notes conjuring cinematic images of smoky mysterious nights.

“Dream In Red,” a short poem set to a dramatic dreadful melody, questions what it means to love and how far does that feeling root itself in your own existence. “Solitary One” pulls the strings, belts the horns and marches towards what seems to be the end of an era for the characters. Tracks “Send Me Home” and “The Last Thing” ponder the woes of death and questions of the coming days.

Then “Natural Pearl” dances into the storyline with upbeat plunking and shuffling, feelings of whimsy, autumn afternoons and maternal love. Adam Turla’s words speak to the inevitably suffocating love of the parent to the child. The only daughter, so beautiful in her mother’s eye. Sarah Balliet’s cello carries through, driving the song with punchy danceable rhythm.

Approaching a conclusion through the dissonant expressions and sounds. The final pages of Big Dark Love are turned by “Hunted” as it builds a whirling and pulsating wonder for what happens next, what will become of the darkening storm ahead. Upon the record’s final note, we have grown with and through the characters to reveal a fear of dying alone and questioning the value of all while simultaneously embracing it all. What is the meaning of love, what is the meaning of our relationships? Why do we do what we do?

Murder by Death have been continuously producing strong records for 15 years, each with a progressing story line, thoughtful expression and diverse musicianship, changing locations, themes and concepts throughout their career. Working with new producers and in different studios, they took their ideas to Louisville this year to record with John Ratterman. Followed by John Congleton finalizing the mix. While this album may take a moment to grow on many, it struck me as a beautiful compilation of linked but varied stories.