How Dark It Is Before The Dawn by Starlings, TN is easily the most crushingly sad album Ive heard this year. Its also on the shortlist for Most Depressing Album Ive Ever Heard, right up there with every one of Elliott Smiths records and And Now That Im In Your Shadow by Damien Jurado.
Starlings, TNs folk, Americana and alt-country mix skews toward the stark and empty school of arrangement, but thats not what makes this a mega-downer. Plenty of guys are optimistic with nothin but a guitar. What makes this so devastating is the brutal, effective lyrics and overall sense of doom that permeates the words and music. Even with the scant glimpses of optimism throughout (see the title), this is almost unbearably sorrowful.
For example, Ive heard the first track 13 times, and the play count decreases down to the last track, which Ive heard four times. Ive only been able to make it through this album four times out of 13. Ouch. And thats not because the music is bad; its very good. Its just okay, Im beating a dead horse. Stephen Carradini