Mount Moriah – Self Titled [Album Review]

by oz on May 16, 2011

Lately, we’ve been talking about breakout albums and our favorite music discoveries of 2011. Add Mount Moriah to both lists.

Heather McEntire and Jenks Miller are the two-piece that created Mount Moriah, but their sound is much larger than themselves. That’s because they’ve enlisted the help of friends, including members of Megafaun, St. Vincent, Gayngs, Bowerbirds, and others in creating this album that was recorded and mixed by Brian Paulson (Beck, Wilco).

Mount Moriah opens their debut full length with the pensive “Only Way Out.” McEntire’s sweet vocals float over meandering pedal steel as she tells a tale of heartbreak:

If you would have tried
Then I would have tried
If commitment’s what you wanted
I would have been the anchor by your side

If you would have stayed
Well I would have stayed
But the only way to love you now
Is to walk away

Then the song ends with:

If you were to pray
Oh, I did pray
But the only way to love something
Is to give it away

The album’s tone is overcast, but the melancholy is broken up by uptempo songs like “Social Wedding Rings” and “Lament.” Do not confuse “uptempo” with “upbeat” because there are very few, if any, moments that leave you rejoicing. This was the album’s intent, explained as a “non-traditional take on classic folk themes like devotion, tribulation, redemption, and an indelible sense of place.”

That sense of place is most palpable in “We Don’t Need That Much,” a story about love and long lasting companionship, free from worries about material possessions or financial wealth:

Honey we don’t need that much
Flannel shirts and coffee in camping cups
We’ll use our hands to work and love
Oh the blessings that will come

Honey we don’t need that much
A winter fire, a summer swimmin’ hole
Just hold me tight and hold me close
Through the seasons I’ll watch you grow

Honey when it comes to offering up
A can of coins will never prove what we’re worth
You’ll have my word and you have my trust
We’ll have more than enough

Heather McEntire and Jenks Miller admit to resenting their North Carolina Southern Gospel background in past years. Fans of country and folk music should be thankful to them for embracing these musical roots. Mount Moriah’s debut is a marvelous batch of sad songs with vocals that can become an ear addiction. If you were a fan of The Everybodyfields, I’d highly recommend this album.

Mount Moriah – Only Way Out

Mount Moriah – Lament

Video: Mount Moriah – Old Gowns

Video: Mount Moriah – Lament

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Shirk May 16, 2011 at 2:15 pm

This album has become quite the “goto” on my ipod lately. I really dig it.

Just May 16, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Sick

Khari McClelland May 17, 2011 at 1:31 am

Love this tune, organ had me from the gitty up!

Simon November 7, 2011 at 7:27 am

Just ordered the album on the strength of the tracks here – looking forward to kicking back with the vibes… cute & passionate singer.

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