Mount Moriah

Mount Moriah

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On their debut album under the Mount Moriah name, following an earlier incarnation as Un Deux Trois, the duo of Heather McEntire and Jenks Miller take a turn toward classic rock and ramble -- perhaps surprising to anyone who only knows Miller through his black metal work -- in an utterly early 21st century moment with their easygoing approach to entrapping an idea of genre. (And frankly, Miller does a better job exploring this approach than My Morning Jacket does black metal, say.) Mount Moriah's primary voice, though, belongs to McEntire, who sings lead and plays while Miller and a wide-ranging group of fellow performers, from a variety of acts including Megafaun, St. Vincent, and Bowerbirds, contribute throughout. Inasmuch as any general approach has its stylistic traits, Mount Moriah's work is sometimes more enjoyable rather than remarkable. But the second song, "Social Wedding Rings," shifts to a sharp and slick feeling that's less 1971 backwoods than 1981 barroom, a little recapturing of that era's suppler AOR in McEntire's moody singing, her sharp portrayal of a troubled relationship, and the swift drive of the song. It signals that this disc isn't going to simply be yet another all-out fetishizing of Gram Parsons and Emmy Lou Harris, but the bulk of the album definitely tries to find a way to make those tropes relevant once more. Happily, the partnership succeeds more often than not, with a song like "Old Gowns" letting them put their own quietly dramatic stamp on the proceedings; McEntire is in excellent voice here, while the slow, steady arrangement of acoustic guitar, quiet organ, and violin easily calls to mind a distant, lost dance filmed in sepia tone. The short and contemplative "Honey, We Don't Need That Much" is another winner, a gentle call for hope that's always been a mainstay for any couple up against it in a cruel world that suits 2011 all too well, sadly, but that makes both the sentiment and the gentle arrangement, down to the organ break, a melancholic winner.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
blue highlight denotes track pick