Elevate Difference

Made The Harbor

It’s deeply problematic that my first thought it is to compare the Mountain Man ladies to the men of Fleet Foxes. Why must my point of reference be boy bands, so to speak? But truly, Mountain Man sounds like a fusion of two bands, both gender-segregated, that I adore: Fleet Foxes and Au Revoire Simone. Simple, reverberating, mostly a cappella harmonies meet woodsy charm and the sparseness of a cold winter’s night, and these ladies sing about lovely, folksy evergreen topics such a soft skin, affectionate nicknames, sitting on the back stairs drinking good beer in the summer air, and dancing at the hall while the band was playing.

Song titles with animal themes are prominent—“Loon Song,” “Honeybee,” “White Heron”—and while they don’t necessarily nod to their namesakes, they certainly incorporate woodsy creature folklore.

The sweat will roll down our backs And we’ll follow animal tracks To a tree in the woods in a hole in the leaves where we’ll see The bright baby eyes of a chickadee

“How’m I doin’” is the most adorably infectious track, a nod to perfectionism and doing the best one can. It even sounds like the women utter the word “yins”—shorthand for “you ones” where I’m from, a variant of “y’all.” Wishful hearing or not, I’m smitten.

Even their digital recordings have a nearly tactile quality, like an old LP spinning on a turntable, scratches and bumps clearly audible. These mountain (wo)men, though they met as Vermont co-eds instead of across a campfire, get so many things right on Made the Harbor and offer up truly inspiring gospel-tinged folk greatness. This is one of my favorite albums of the year so far.

Written by: Brittany Shoot, June 29th 2010
Tags: folk