Mountain Man: Mountain Man (2009) Review.

I feel weird listening to Mountain Man on my ipod. The ironically named band of three women folkies have produced an antiquated record that sounds like a cassette recording of your hippie neighbor's backyard vegan barbecue. The songwriting is exceptional; harmonies slide back and forth in a traditional folk style, sure to evoke some scene from "O Brother Where Art Thou?".

Mountain Man walk a fine line between Sacred Harp (think Cold Mountain OST), gospel, and Gregorian chant that makes for quite an eclectic mix of tunes. Opener "Animal Tracks" finds all three singers weaving their voices together; their slurring style recalling the rawness of Bon Iver's debut. One feels, in some nostalgic sense, that the lyrics of the chorus could not be sung in any other way ("And the sweat will roll down our backs / And we'll follow animal tracks"). It has the sound of some lost childhood anthem of adventure, sung in unison as the three women trudge through the forest. For such a humble recording, its quite devastating.

On the other side is "Bathtub", a short (2 min) ceremonial song that takes a few listens to appreciate. The opening acoustic guitar is ugly; octave notes, slightly out of tune, played with a harshness that is only matched by the sheer power of the vocals. The forcefully sung chorus eventually falls into a gorgeous chord, ending with the three-part harmonized: "And the bath water's still running." The otherwise petty line holds a significant weight that sends chills down the spine.

Mountain Man's self-titled debut album is only seven songs long, none of which cross the three minute mark. Totaling about 16 minutes of music, the record feels compact and subtle, as if it was secretly recorded and never meant to be heard. You feel as if you've been listening in on an intimate rehearsal; some notes are out of tune, the sound isn't mastered well. You find yourself turning up the volume on softer sections only to be blasted with the sharpness of an elevated refrain. But it is exactly this dynamic physical connection that gives the album it's charm.

8.5 out of 10

Mountain Man :: Animal Tracks (from, Mountain Man [2009])


Post a Comment