H.C. McEntire, “LIONHEART”

H.C. McEntire
LIONHEART
MERGE
7/10

Mount Moriah, in biblical terms, is the mountain on which the sacrifice of Isaac is to take place. Mount Moriah, in rock and roll terms, is a badass trio pushing deep-felt Southern roots rock since 2010. The band’s singer, H.C. (née Heather) McEntire, powers the band with a voice both beautiful and powerful, heartfelt and piercing. On her debut solo LP, McEntire—whose name is somehow not taken directly from There Will Be Blood—remains an effusive, unrelenting force amidst a shifted landscape.

Trading members Jenks Miller and Casey Toll for a rotating cast of Appalachian musicians, the record is an introspective look at McEntire separated from her band’s traditional dynamic. The North Carolina music scene may seem elusive to those not immersed in it, but the folk tradition rages on in this land, continuing the mythic pastime of storytelling filtered through a swampy Muscle Shoals folk rock sound. McEntire solicits help from Phil Cook (who plays with Gayngs, Megafaun, Akron/Family, and seemingly everyone else), William Tyler, Angel Olsen, Mary Lattimore, and more on LIONHEART. Less a solo record than it is McEntire & Friends in the tradition of her Southern forebears, this album plays into her strengths as one of rock’s most dynamic songwriters.

LIONHEART shifts from a ballad lament filled with rich multi-part harmonies (“A Lamb, A Dove”), to traditional folk rock featuring a perfect pedal steel performance (“Yellow Roses”), to electronically imbued string concertos (“Wild Dogs”). It isn’t necessarily a break from Mount Moriah; rather, it’s a pause in the band’s myth, its origin story, its adherence to tales biblical and personal. Across nine songs, H.C. McEntire is free to be whomever she pleases. And while that person may not be markedly different from the frontwoman of Mount Moriah, her debut solo LP proves that not all changes must be biblical. The small ones are sometimes even better. 

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