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Album Review
Made The Harbor

Made The Harbor
by Mountain Man


Review Date
Reviewed by
Gareth Meade

The female Fleet Foxes? Not exactly I’m partly afraid and partly pleased to announce. In fact that association, which Mountain Man seem to have acquired in their short existence, is an unfortunately sluggish sound bite that doesn’t go anywhere near far enough in bringing attention to this richly deserving trio.

Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath are the females in question, conjuring the most eerily pitch-perfect harmonies together, barely bothering to decorate their music with anything more than a plucked acoustic guitar. It seems so uncommon these days to even hear something this beautiful and powerful emanating from little more than three voices.

Although it’s been mentioned elsewhere before, an almost perfect touchstone is the Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss song ‘Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby’ from ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’. Mountain Man’s ‘Mouthwings’ and ‘How’m I Doin’ are especially made in this vein; sung a cappella with the voices somehow feeding off one another despite being wildly different.

Where guitar is utilised, the melodies are all relatively simple, but still a helpful garnish for anyone for whom the thought of an entirely a cappella album seems daunting. ‘Animal Tracks’ is the most instantly rewarding and beguiling of these songs, although it’s not necessarily possible to highlight any of the 13 songs as the ‘one’ Mountain Man song you should hear. The group has kept most of the material to little more than two minutes, which means that as Made The Harbor rolls gently to it’s conclusion there is more a feeling of having been provided with a soundtrack to your most peaceful imaginings than having listened to a bunch of individual tracks.

The dead silence in the gaps between the songs on Made The Harbor only manages to further emphasise the hiss that introduces each of them. It gives the album even more of a feeling of place than just the inexorable evocation of a time when folk music was at the height of its popularity. It’s truly captivating to hear these three women sing together and truly incredible that this is their debut album.

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