Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Mountain Man - Made The Harbor (Bella Union)

Somehow, some way, there is something magical about haunting female voices within the realm of Americana folk and country music, echoing the likes of Gillian Welch and Joanna Newsom. The crystal clear honesty of such a sound seeps into the woodwork of a nation, acting as a beautiful representation of the musical heart of a more or less extinct culture. The Appalachian essence of Mountain Man is apparent from the very beginning in the homespun plucking that follows a throat-clearing introduction on ‘Buffalo’, track one on Made The Harbor.

Mountain Man explore topics that could have been pondered ninety years ago yet resonate today, from the sexual urges in ‘Animal Tracks’ to female independence in ‘Soft Skin’. Regardless of subject matter, the method in which the music is assembled lends a gentle, wholesome atmosphere to anything that spills from the lips of the three ladies behind the record.

It may be stretching the metaphorical study of such a record in looking at the bleak space between tracks, as seconds of studio silence tick by, as emblematic of the broad, open plains of the American Mid-West, home to rattlesnakes, Wild West nostalgia and tumbleweed. Then again, with the toil that has gone into working on such a romantic sound and appearance, the trio of ladies known as Mountain Man sure know how to evoke an exact sentiment

I feel like I have to mention O Brother Where Art Thou?, a magnificent movie where bluegrass and the utter beauty of the human voice shone once more. Compared to the glossy, overproduced electronically tinged music that dominates the current market, I pray for more music like this. As much as I love ten musicians bashing out a bunch of instruments onstage to create a swelling, sensational racket, it’s stunning to be suddenly consumed by quaint harmonies and melodious hymns. Like taking a walk or reading your favourite childrens book, it unburdens the mind from the clutter of complexity that has built up over time.

Everything has been pushing me to head West recently and seek a life on the country trail, herding cattle and wielding a wicked lasso. Red Dead Redemption, basically Grand Theft Auto in the Wild West, has me living out stylised cowboy fantasies; a TV show, Justified, centres on a cowboy-like US Marshall; and all this now accompanied by the carefree chirping of three softly spoken country gals, urging me to eke out an archaic existence. I desperately need a cowboy hat. And you desperately need to listen to Mountain Man.

Words : Adam Parker


JGM said...

Beautiful writing about a beautiful band. Catch the live. It's wonderful!!

JGM said...

Beautiful words about a beautiful band. Be sure to catch them live!! Mountain Man are intimate and expansive at the same time. Not to be missed.