The second referencial band to feature on FRUK in the past few weeks, Mount Moriah take their name from the mountain range cited in the Book of Genesis. Essentially a country band, comprised of core members Heather McEntire and Jenks Miller they both hail from and love the American South, with McEntire stating in a recent interview with The Daily Tar Heel, that she finds much of the Bible and the South, with its Baptist churches and deep seated ideologies, to be almost synonymous. So their name and sound do sit neatly side by side.
Emanating from Nashville this debut eponymous release captures that ’70s classic rock vibe which last year’s Here’s to Taking it Easy by Phosphorescent served. Often there are twists and turns to the folklore presented however, ‘The Reckoning’ a gender swap as McEntire’s female drawl narrates a male’s coming-of-age, which behind its structure is quietly questioning of Christianity, gender and identity, while also remaining a close-to-the-bone retelling from McEntire.
As with much of her featured lyrics she states they had been awaiting a suitable instrumentation to bring them out of their hiding for many years. Fortunately it was Miller’s project that was fitting, and too bore the name Mount Moriah before Heather’s arrival. Taken as an outlet for these personal tales, which are not so dissimilar thematically from the Biblical passage, they likewise address devotion, trial and redemption throughout.
From the country twang of relationship breakdown opener ‘Only Way Out’ with it pedal steel and McEntire’s effortless Southern vocals, through to the mildly psychedelic touches of closer ‘Hail, Lightning’ where McEntire’s vocals culminate in an escalation of pent up emotion, Mount Moriah truly expose the two sides of their talents. While both songs expose their musical ability, with the former a leaf from a traditional country songbook of Southern folk laments, the closing track proves they’re a band which could succeed for the pained vocals of its female vocalist alone: “let us feel, let us heal, let us grow” McEntire asserts while a straining string section wanes under her woeful lyrics. Subtle musical touches that peak and trough in never over dramatised accompaniments throughout its 40 minute run, this self-titled release captures the timelessness of artists like Neil Young while adding a modern twist to countrified characteristics and songs that have been dragged through their haunting histories to the bleak and yet somehow sepia tinged hopefulness of Mount Moriah’s present.
Review by: Melanie McGovern