The American South is changing, whether it wants to or not. Old ideas and mediums are being gradually pushed aside for more sensible ones, both in politics and culture. Mount Moriah frontwoman Heather McEntire is fascinated by these changes and how theyre affecting her home. As a poet and writer, McEntire turns her observations into prose and then adds a melody and chords (the North Carolina trios debut LP consisted of McEntires old, unused poems set to country rock). On sophomore album, Miracle Temple, her literary approach to lyricism remains, though her focus is more defined southerners v. post-modernism and her songwriting more meticulous.
McEntires scene-setting phrases (dancing shoes, black water river, cobblestone streets) depict a relatable world. On opener Younger Days, she addresses a friend whos gone and left their small town: Big city lives really gotta be a drag / August is over, so when are you coming back? Her accent sounds like Dolly Parton; her guitar jangles and twangs, notes flowing into one another. Highlight I Built a Town is a tale of blue-collar romanticism in the vein of Whiskeytown and a remarkable vocal performance from McEntire. Shes made considerable strides as a singer since Mount Moriahs debut, which she credits to learning how to treat her “voice as an instrument.
Miracle Temple is a record of mood and a downbeat mood at that. Mount Moriah exercise extreme restraint in their arrangements, with muted guitars, minor keys, and minimalistic rhythms. They dont sensationalize anything sonically or lyrically; one might even argue that Miracle Temple is too restrained (Miracle Temple Holiness is the only thing resembling a rock song). But no matter how soft and elegant the music, McEntire and Mount Moriah are illustrating the gritty reality of the New South without the bias of the past. Theyre exactly what country music needs.
Essential Tracks: Younger Days, I Built a Town