Dallas String Quartet’s version of “Better Days”

In what feels like a love letter one writes to themselves, tucking it away to read during trying times, the Dallas String Quartet’s version of “Better Days” is the remedy to feeling low. Originally recorded by One Republic in March 2020 as a response to COVID-19, DSQ elevates the listener into a world of no problems and only beautiful sounds. “Better Days” is DSQ’s instrumental follow up to its earlier cover of Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now”.

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Much different in tone and in tempo than “Don’t Start Now”, DSQ mellows itself out with “Better Days” and adds romantic resonance. What the songs do share is a triple violin threat. The trio of violins is Ion Zanca, Eleanor Dunbar and Melissa Priller. Joining them in this particular track is bassist Young Heo and percussionist/drummer Efren Guzman. Zanca, who’s originally from Romania, moved to the States to pursue a college education. His studies led him to Southern Methodist University in Dallas. It’s there he where accrued a wide mix of musicians that cultivated a unique blend of classical music meshed with modern hits. They would perform everything from rock music to pop music and their unique brand has caught like wild fire.

DSQ’s meteoric rise is evident in the first few “Better Days” moments. The magnetic strings enamor the listener. Feeling almost weightless, the listener is nearly hypnotized by the ethereal sounds. It’s a translucent feeling and if one were to close their eyes, they might discover a prism reflecting all the colors found in nature. Trying to describe the beauty of the violins is daunting. I can’t find the words to feel at peace with, knowing that each listen brings on a waterfall of colors and emotions.

The percussion and bass guitar are riveting. Keeping time is important, yes, but the fullness of the sound in the violins just overpowers these two instruments. I found it interesting, too, that they used a guitar in the “Don’t Stop Now” cover, but I didn’t notice the electric or acoustic guitar in “Better Days”. The drums are more jazz in methodology. I found it to be tranquilizing. My worries just quelled when I listened to “Better Days”. Listeners that enjoy meditation should add this to their Spotify playlists. Please keep in mind, though, it’s not the song you want to fall asleep to. No. It’s a song that stirs the imagination, gets your juices flowing and your mind in the driving lane. In a way, listening to “Better Days” also makes you feel limitless. It’s positively stimulating – a sonic blast of sun.

Visually, DSQ has always excelled at creating a music video that marries their sound and images. In “Better Days” the band members playfully take many liberties playing their instruments outdoors. It’s a wonderful, sunny day and the band has chosen a park to perform. In some parts of the video, they are playing sports or flying a kite. It’s little reminders that just around the corner, things are looking good. Life is good.

Gwen Waggoner