Folk in its simplest form
Normally, when you take an eight-year hiatus from a project, you might expect a band to come back a little rusty. Or, their new ideas may not be as fresh, as hip or as on par with the ideas that brought them widespread acclaim. But, this hypothetical problem isn’t the case for Mountain Man, who after an eight-year hiatus, are back and as good as ever with a new 14-song album called Magic Ship that was released on September 21st.
The album is only the second full-length release from the Bennington, Vermont trio after their 2010 debut Made the Harbor. And while each member of the band conducted vastly different lives after the debut album, Magic Ship is the blank canvas they painted eight years of their experiences, dreams and lives into art on together.
The 14 tracks vary in length from five seconds shy of a minute to four minutes and 11 seconds. And while not every track will feature an instrument, the real stars of the show are the aiding voices of Amelia Randall Meath, Molly Erin Sarlé and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig. The main reason the group was waxed poetically by a New York Times writer seven years ago was the three’s exceptional group harmonies featured on nearly all of their tracks. One would think that a group would need an instrument like a guitar (or at the minimum, a kick drum) to keep time, but Mountain Man have exceptional control of their rhythm, cadence and audio to make each song a pleasant listen. Their harmonic vocals make you feel like you’re floating on a literal Magic Ship through the atmosphere.
Not only are the vocals warm and inviting, but the lyrics are just as folksy and authentic, making them some of the most well-delivered in the folk genre today. Even simple acapella stories of being called back to the house (“Stella”) have this rhythmic beat to them that you can’t help nodding your head along to. The songs that stand out the most are the one-two rhythmic beat of “Rang Tang Ring Toon,” the acoustic slow build of “Moon” and the cool-sounding harmonies in both “Fish” and the traditional “Bright Morning Stars.” Magic Ship is three sirens calling out to you in harmonic, gripping unison.