Beautiful sophomore release from this band with the girl from the Indigo Girls and the man behind psych/sludge band Horseback! Pretty incredible record definitely worth your $
Mount Moriah - Miracle Temple  [Album]
Merge / MRG466 / CD
MP3 / V0 (VBR)
Out Feb. 26 2013
Pre-order vinyl LP at the Merge Store
(LP includes coupon for full download. LP preorders will include a free Merge Records slipmat. Preorders will ship to arrive on or around the release date of February 26, 2013.)
Fiercely contemporary yet steeped in classic influences, Miracle Temple draws Mount Moriah’s progressive style of country-rock—and the exquisite voice at its center—into devastatingly sharp focus. The record sports bigger arrangements, louder guitars, bolder vocals, and more soulful rhythms than the band’s acclaimed debut. The artful personal storytelling of “Bright Light” and “Eureka Springs” develop a piercing portrait of a “New South” where liberated traditions are still fitfully breaking free from conservative ones. The band’s cathartic vision for their home and themselves is writ large in their lovingly critical negotiation with romantic, political, and gender identities; geographical perspective; confrontation and forgiveness. The drive for change, resolute but tinged with regret, is arrestingly captured in the cover image of a burning barn.
At the heart of Mount Moriah are singer/guitarist Heather McEntire, formerly of post-punk band Bellafea, and guitarist Jenks Miller, exploring a lyrical guitar style outside of his “increasingly ambitious, genre-stretching” (Stereogum) metal project Horseback. Mount Moriah formed in 2008 as an outlet for two close friends to explore more traditional pop outside of their heavier projects, but Mount Moriah soon grew to eclipse them. “I wasn’t really able to discover the nuances of my voice or be the creative writer I wanted to learn to be,” McEntire says of singing punk music. “Building songs around the words in Mount Moriah has been so fulfilling.” Casey Toll joined the band in 2010 and plays bass. On Miracle Temple, James Wallace provides drums, organ, and piano.
Those who were drawn to the uncommon intimacy of Mount Moriah’s debut, which in part explored coming to terms with a progressive identity in the deeply traditional South, will find plenty to hold close in Miracle Temple, where the reckoning continues apace. But the new watchword is confidence. “If the first record was about grappling with the implications of an identity,” Miller explains, “this record has more conviction. I think people who expect a quieter, more acoustic-sounding record are going to be surprised. It’s about owning what we want to do, and that’s reflected in Heather’s lyrics and singing.” Indeed, McEntire’s voice, already the band’s secret weapon, fully discloses its startling power on Miracle Temple.
“I feel like there’s a lot of confrontation in this record,” McEntire says, “that stems from the confidence we developed doing the first one by ourselves.” That new-found clarity of purpose results in music that balances nervy beauty and resounding force, in beautifully wrought lyrics that compress condemnation and confession into subtle poetry.
The perspective is the band’s own, but the richly styled music is rooted in illustrious rock, soul, and country traditions, paying due to the likes of Dolly Parton and Neil Young, Aretha Franklin, and Fleetwood Mac.
“Things that were almost questions before are more like answers now,” Miller says. “There was a timidity to Heather’s voice on the first record, singing in this naked way without distortion. Now, it’s commanding, which allows the arrangements to do more.” The expanded arrangements feature a stellar variety of guest stars. Daniel Hart provides violin and Allyn Love plays pedal steel. Indigo Girl Amy Ray sings gospel-tinged backing vocals, with additional backing by Bibis Ellison, Ryan Gustafson, and Midtown Dickens’ Will Hackney and Catherine Edgerton. Miracle Temple, produced by Mark Nevers, Jenks Miller, and Heather McEntire, mixed by Nevers, and mastered by Alex McCollough, was recorded over five days at Beech House in Nashville.
McEntire, Miller, and Toll wrote the music, with all lyrics by McEntire except for “Union Street Bridge,” co-written with the poet Sarah Messer. Additional tracking was completed by Miller, James Wallace, Jeff Crawford, Jaron Pearlman, and Daniel Hart.
Rooted in the fertile Chapel Hill music scene, Mount Moriah built a devoted national following around their D.I.Y. debut. They were tapped for a national tour with the Indigo Girls; endorsed by Pitchfork, NPR, The Onion A.V. Club, Stereogum, PopMatters, and others; named the creators of North Carolina’s best 2011 album by Shuffle Magazine; and featured on Bon Iver’s celebrity playlist on iTunes. Much acclaim focused on the riveting stage presence of McEntire, hailed by the Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle as the kind one rarely discovers, a sentiment echoed by Paste Magazine’s Shane Ryan, who wrote: “McEntire fits into that rarified subgroup of charismatic performers … When she sings, the transformation begins. The energy is evident in her eyes … and in her voice, a powerful instrument capable of finding the perfect emotional tone within the lyrics … I left the venue knowing [Mount Moriah] will be huge.”
1. Younger Days
2. Bright Light
3. Eureka Springs
4. I Built a Town
5. White Sands
6. Connecticut to Carolina
9. Miracle Temple Holiness
10. Union Street Bridge
11. Those Girls
12. Telling the Hour