During the months of 2016 songwriter Maryn Jones was touring with her various music projects; the psych-folk outfit Saintseneca, or the loud-ppop band All Dogs. We’re told that, during this time, she was somewhat buffeted by road experiences, and the passing of some personal relationships. All the stuff of being a person alive, and living fully in the modern world. Taking care of things. The artistic product of this period was a new collection of solo material. And here we are, talking about that collection – Black Dog In My Path; with Jones working again under her Yowler moniker.
The work that Jones produces as Yowler has always been pleasingly dark, weighty, and deeply personal. The contents of this new sequence are perhaps more emotionally charged, and more diverse than previous offerings. If her work on 2017’s The Offer carried a parred-down intimacy this new album carries a depth of vision that expands her sonic palette. With the increase of instrumental range comes a lyrical dynamic that extends further into, and away from, the artist’s center.
A track like “Grizzly Bear” shows the tone of Yowler’s influences. While others, like the near-straight rocker “Where is my light?” show Yowler at her most forcefully frayed. The timbre of this track throws grit and glitter into the classic distortion and fuzz of guitars. Meanwhile Jones delivers a purity of voice that cleans out the soul. “And where is joy among these pieces / That we scream into the space? / Where is my gentle reason / And the light within my cave? / Where have you been?” It’s in a moment like this, where the raw quality of life cannot be processed, that Yowler excels.
Jones is a songwriter with the ability to perform alchemy. Crude elements of loss and isolation, or even the dark joys of unrewarded desire, are combined to produce a poetry that strips back pretense. She has the ability to capture the authentic experience of spontaneity. Yowler gathers her thoughts in, and deftly shapes light around the form.
Oddly, given the role of the black dog archetype in psychology, Black Dog In My Path, concentrates on lighter aspects of the mind that were shared on The Offer. Through this sequence of tracks Yowler challenges the darkness by acknowledging it’s influence, before countering with an observation of the stars, or other distant lights that frame her ambition.
There are, of course, moments that can only be described as ‘off’. A track like the deceptively simple “No” throws all kinds of poetic nuance behind a meaning. ‘No’ means ‘No’, of course, but here it also means other things that aren’t ‘yes’. The sound of Jones’ fingers sliding across her fretboard amplify the dreamlike intimacy; “Slipping into a spell / I felt my body swell”. This through-the-looking-glass perspective of mind and body is beguiling. Woodwind rasps beneath guitar-work, because we clearly need more items of heartbreaking beauty.
Through Black Dog In My Path Yowler has produced an album that is of the now, and also timeless. Strikingly beautiful, deeply rewarding. This is the kind of album that measures the shapeless.
HURRY – BUY – YOWLER MUSIC
PHOTOGRAPH BY SAM SPLIT