While many look down on country as an antiquated genre, meant for tapping cowboy boots and grizzly ranchers (though of course not here at FFS), Mount Moriah, with Miracle Temple, might well have created an album with just enough country influence to bring the genre to the masses, combining the style with more contemporary ‘indie’ sounds. The bold first line of opener ‘Younger Days’, “You were always wild and hostile to him” commands the attention of the listener and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Vocalist Heather McEntire has a distinct country lilt to her voice which, combined with beautiful harmonies and easy electric guitar plucking, creates a profound and pleasing sound.
Tracks such as ‘Bright Light’ and ‘Eureka Springs’ have a touch of Fleetwood Mac about them, which is never a bad thing. However the band don’t quite show off the guitar mastery of Mick Fleetwood just yet. Their sound is distinctly southern, the lyrics relaxed yet profound. The blues influence is clear on tracks such as ‘I Built a Town’ and ‘Rosemary’, with wonderful layers of simple instrumentation.
Like the opening track, ‘White Sands’ proposes and interesting and exciting juxtaposition of styles and sounds; McEntires gorgeous country vocal, and a lilting piano intro is complemented by an upbeat, indie tune, complete with shakers, snares and guitar solos. The track harks back to an older time, but the style keeps it fresh and exciting. Here, it seems Mount Moriah are really bringing country forwards, hopefully joining the army of bands bringing such deserved genres to the masses.
Another highlight is ‘Miracle Temple Holiness’, a very bluesy yet more commanding and epic track. The band utilise emotive base, kicker and strings throughout to produce a sincere and compelling sound, to match its religious subject matter. This song contrasts with the pleasant, easy listening of ‘Those Girls’, a track you might expect to find on any Summer 2013 indie playlist.
Mount Moriah have produced an album of contradictions, with layers of light and dark and intense and relaxed. However, the most important for me is the combination of the country style of the lead vocal, and the more contemporary style of the instrumentation, and while the albums functions wonderfully as a whole, hopefully individual tracks such as ‘Younger Days’ and ‘White Sands’ will open the minds of a wider audience to the under appreciated genre of country.
Words: Amelia Steele