Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn

If your ears have been cocked towards the Northern winds, then the catalog of sublime albums from Matthew ‘Doc’ Dunn has probably already permeated your psyche and found a permanent space on your shelf. Dunn has been an indispensable collaborator over the years, building a lasting legacy with MV & EE and the Northwest psych contingent before moving back to Canada and becoming a fixture in works from the Cosmic Range collective (Stonegrass, Sacred Lamp, Cosmic Range). Over the last few years he’s also found himself enmeshed with Canadian luminaries like U.S. Girls, Jennifer Castle and Badge Epoch. Yet, it’s his solo works that have found him carving out his deepest niche. Polished, but still wound with barbed songwriting that marks Dunn as an outlier among his peers, his run of solo records over the last few years are almost as unparalleled as they are under-appreciated.

Following some welcome recognition as part of the last Sub Pop Singles Club outing, Dunn’s latest album, Fantastic Light, is his most refined yet. Expanding his scope, Dunn springboards off of his past collaborations with Jeff McMurrich and Tony Price, this time working closely with Asher Gould-Murtagh in the production chair (alongside himself) and bringing in a cadre of players that add rich strings and soulful background vocals to the album. Continuing his 2023 run of ‘best guitar solos outside of a Dino album’ J Mascis even pops in to tear a cosmic hole in the peak of “The Ranger.” The album gathers a scent of excess that’s balanced with exemplary skill. Feeling in the vein of initially misunderstood masterpieces like No Other, Veedon Fleece, Greetings From L.A, and Wolfking of LA, the album is marked by ornate instrumentation, but all the better for its grandeur. The strings and swooning vocals gild the framing of Dunn’s songwriting, as bittersweet and beautiful as ever, and Fantastic Light winds up the culmination of years of embracing a heft that his songs were always leaning towards. Vibes, flute and mellotron bubble up between the the strings and Dunn’s honey n ash vocals, captivating the listener at every turn. On Fantastic Light the tethers have been cut and Dunn is floating away towards the horizon, weaving in and out of the light as it filters through the clouds.

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