Album Review: “A Thousand Times Brighter” by Black Dog String Quartet

Vancouver, Canada-based musical ensemble Black Dog String Quartet’s new album “A Thousand Times Brighter” is due for release on streaming platforms this month (April 28, 2023). This ‘deeply personal’ album combines stylistic and thematic approaches into a powerful, emotion-packed experience. Musically, it covers genres ranging from folk, chamber pop and art song, and is inspired by artists like Owen Pallett, Gentle Party, Afiara Quartet, Joanna Newsom, Andrew Bird, Brodsky Quartet, The End Tree and My Brightest Diamond.

Black Dog String Quartet A Thousand Times Brighter

“A Thousand Times Brighter” is thematically about ecology and the natural world. The songs explore the western Canadian environments and the human relationship with these environments, bringing out a deeply personal narrative on intimacy, dreams and mental health.

“A Thousand Times Brighter” Tracklist

Black Dog String Quartet’s “A Thousand Times Brighter” is a full-length album with the following 9 tracks:

  1. All The Pretty Horses
  2. Two
  3. Rain and Shine
  4. How I Remember It
  5. In A Dream
  6. Thompson
  7. Summer Song
  8. Dizzying View
  9. Sea of Clover

The opening track “All The Pretty Horses” is a pensive and emotional rendition of a rainy, early spring night. It begins with a heartbreaking string layering, followed by passionate female vocals. The high-flying violin adds a cherry on the cake.

The second track “Two” features rich violin and John Kastelic’s catchy vocals. It bursts with energy, especially towards the end when the music gets faster and Kastelic screams “Choose one more a thousand times, choose one more, I need more, one more…”

“Two” Official Music Video:

“Rain is falling, Sun still shines, Trees are dripping, choked with wine…” goes the third track “Rain and Shine.” It’s a minimalistic track with sober music and clear vocals. You can hear soft percussion in “How I Remember It.” It’s a fast track with lush, perky vocals and the catchy refrain “This is how I remember it.”

“In A Dream” is a song about random dreams, where the singer dreams about being loved, flying high in the wind and crying without any reason. The accompanying music is mellow and on the melancholic side as though it tries to convey the dreamy state of mind and the emptiness that follows immediately after you wake up from a dream.

“Thompson” expresses the anxiety lying within most of us as the singer wonders “Will I ever be free!” “Summer Song” is the longest track of the album with a length of almost 9 minutes. It features a unique amalgamation of tone, tempo and texture in addition to a luscious female voice.

 “Dizzying View” is a jazzy track with upright bass and soaring strings. The music as well as the vocals are pleasing and spellbinding. “Sea of Clover” closes the album with Kastelic’s fantastic vocals.

About “A Thousand Times Brighter” Artists

Black Dog String Quartet music artists

The Black Dog String Quartet was formed in 2007 by bringing together some of Vancouver’s finest musicians. The group has worked with popular artists like Marianas Trench, 54-40 and Bleeding Through. The quartet has recorded for producers like Warne Livesey, Dave Genn and Devin Townsend.

“A Thousand Times Brighter” is their first album produced from their own original material. The group experienced a major tragedy during the production of this album. Their producer-cum-engineer, Olivia Quan passed away unexpectedly at an early age of 25. Although she had almost finished the mixing, the final adjustments were completed by her colleague, Tom Dobrzanski.

“A Thousand Times Brighter” is dedicated to Olivia. The olive tree imagery on the album cover is a nod to her. Credits for this awesome project include Elyse Jacobson and Molly MacKinnon at violin, John Kastelic at viola and lead male vocals, Doug Gorkoff at cello and Chelsea Rose and Naomi Kavka at lead female vocals.

More Info About Black Dog String Quartet

Here are some quick links to help you learn more about Black Dog String Quartet and their work:

* Official Website            * Facebook         * Instagram        * YouTube Channel