Winter Mountain are a duo made up of Joseph Francis from West Cornwall and Martin Smyth from Donegal, Ireland. Whilst we may argue that all things are determined by fate the chance meeting of these two and what happened afterwards will remain a core part of their story:
An Englishman and an Irishman step onto the same train at Chicago’s Union station and meet for the first time. Both singers, both songwriters…both broke, but intent on making their way by rail to Memphis, TN, the birthplace of Rock n Roll…
That night, the two strangers began a conversation that lasted until the early hours. A conversation centered on their mutual love of the sounds of the 60’s and 70‘s, of great albums and great artists, and great harmony singing: The Band, Simon & Garfunkel, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – By morning they had named themselves Winter Mountain and committed to travel together, swapping stories, exchanging lyrics and singing together in the bars and clubs of the deep south. From their first performance it was impossible to ignore the rare magic of their natural vocal blend as heads turned whenever they sang.
On their return the guys spent a fortnight songwriting in Ireland which led to a chance entry in a Battle of the Bands competition. Winter Mountain competed against the best unsigned talent in Northern Ireland, and won! It was enough to capture the heart of a local theatre owner who booked them to open for Irish singing luminary Cara Dillon. After hearing Joseph and Martin’s performance Cara and husband/producer Sam Lakeman immediately signed Winter Mountain to their independent label, Charcoal Records and set about assembling a team of experienced musicians who could help realise the vision that Joseph and Martin had for their music.
Their debut EP ‘Find, Follow’ is full of brightness, something that is most noticeable on the opening Shed a Little Light an up-beat alt-country number. Throughout this EP the musical backing is not so much understated as softened, guitar, piano and even percussion drift past you giving the harmonies of Joseph and Martin the biggest attention and focus. The remaining tracks Sarah and When Ever You Lay Your Head Down are slower burning songs on which comparisons to the likes of The Everly Brothers are unavoidable and whilst there is a temptation to add ‘with a contemporary edge’ that would be forgetting how outstanding Phil and Don Everly really were as songwriters as evidenced by Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s tribute album. Their heartfelt lyrics, perfect harmonies and warm acoustics combine to make them an instant win. I hate to use the word classic but there is a vintage feel to this EP which gives it a really nice authenticity and warmth.
Winter Mountain’s debut EP ‘Find, Follow’ is out now on Charcoal Records, the label owned by Irish singing luminary Cara Dillon and her husband/producer Sam Lakeman.