Mountain Man's hushed music makes you sit still and listen. That's a pretty powerful reaction, considering the plethora of distractions at your fingertips. But the dulcet and incomparable harmonies of Amelia Meath (Sylvan Esso), Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Molly Sarle are just that captivating, luring you into a state of tranquility akin to the feeling of watching a cotton candy sunset unfurl during a warm summer evening.
It has been eight years since Mountain Man released their debut LP Made the Harbor — a timeless barebones record ….
Where does a sense of quiet fit within indie folk these days? During the last decade, some of the genre's new staples--Iron & Wine, Hiss Golden Messenger, Amanda Shires--have turned up the amplifiers as they've turned toward more elaborate production. But for Mountain Man--the hushed, harmony-drenched trio of Amelia Meath, Molly Erin Sarlé, and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, rarely accompanied by more than six strings and a tapped foot--it's less about finding a quiet place than forging one. They started carving out their space on their lovingly ramshackle debut, 2010's Made the Harbor, but an unintentional eight-year hiatus halted the headway.
In the eight years that have passed between 2010's Made the Harbor and 2018's Magic Ship, Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, and Amelia Randall Meath have been exploring divergent paths, with the latter teaming up with Nick Sanborn for the stylish electropop project Sylvan Esso, and the other two pursuing solo careers. Little has changed musically for the trio (they never officially disbanded), who, on album number two, continue to weave their unembellished voices around old Appalachian folk tunes, rustic originals, and the occasional cover (Michael Hurley's "Blue Mountain" and Ted Lucas' "Baby Where You Are"). Like its equally austere predecessor, Magic Ship delivers a listening experience that's akin to eavesdropping.