Halifax’s Dark For Dark may be riding the crest of a neo-folk-pop wave, with their latest album, All Dressed, carried even higher by the quiet tide of of a perennial genre. But if you ask them, their success comes down to three things: The Beatles, Jay Crocker, and a bag of chips. We’ll address these in order of precedence.
All Dressed is a bit like the quaint poppy-sweetness of She & Him meeting the lilt of The Corrs, with just a touch of The Cranberries‘ punch. It’s all the jangly guitar bits of the early Epstein-era Beatles and a smattering of dreamily reverbed sixties girl bands. It’s a lot of flavours all at once, yet greater than the sum of its parts, exactly like its namesake. “Well, I can’t remember how it started,” says Dark For Dark songwriter Rebecca Zolkower. “It just seemed one day that there was rarely a time where the three of us would meet, and there wouldn’t be a bag. I have seen it referenced more than once that All Dressed is the ‘#1 chip flavour in Canada.'”
“When it comes to chips, there are no rules.”
Which is a fine way to do business, but for the sceptics, Dark For Dark have a track record of non-chipcentric music. Their first album, Warboats, was a well received exercise in melodic nostalgia. Zolkower’s lyrics paired with the harmonies of bandmates Jess Lewis and Melanie Stone make for a warm and folky niche, but Zolkower explains that the band were looking for ways to grow that sound. The answer was to recruit Jay Crocker (JOYFULTALK) as a producer.
“We had been playing together for about three years when we decided to make this record. We had new songs that we were playing in a folk oriented style, more like our first album, ‘Warboats’,” says Zolkower. “I was beginning to feel uninspired with these newer songs, but still wanted to try recording them. Looking for that inspiration, I knew Jay (Crocker) would bring it. Jay is an incredible composer and musician, and has a studio in Crousetown, Nova Scotia on the property where he lives with his family. I wanted to put these songs in his hands and see what we could come up with as a group. He knew immediately what kind of record he wanted to make, borrowing some elements from early Beatles albums like ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘With the Beatles’.”
“There were challenges, rearranging and recording the songs as we went over two weekends, but the environment that Jay created for the songs felt so comfortable for all of us immediately. It’s kind of the perfect combination of all of our taste. Having just started playing with a drummer, we brought along Matt Gallant. Asa Brosius, a phenomenal pedal steel player, had been playing with us for a while, and contributed perfectly to the new songs also. We came out on the other end with this record, and with new energy to play the songs. Being a part of Jay’s world is a great thing. He breathed life into the band.”
As a result, All Dressed is a richly cohesive soundscape of interweaving vocals and pedal-steel. It lulls you in with it harmonies, and its gently flowing songs as they meander into one another before sweeping you up in a chorus. The hauntingly melancholic “Blue Morning” stands out as being conversely catchy in a way that might just be magic. All Dressed could be a second Canadian favourite by the same name.
For more information visit www.DarkForDark.com