Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Album Review: Mount Moriah - Miracle Temple

If Mount Moriah’s self-titled debut was born of feelings forged in a fiery passion, then the band’s follow up, Miracle Temple, shows the effects of erosion and time on those feelings.

The intensity of Heather McEntire’s painful tales of love has waned. Miracle Temple is more reflective — although still biting — and digs deeper into the foundations of failed lovers by examining places and the past.

The subject of “Younger Days,” not satisfied with “small-town summer malaise,” is blinded by the chase and big city lights. The “timid debonair” in “Rosemary” can’t seem to stay in one place. “Those Girls” are just testing the water. “At the time you don’t mind being an experiment. Oh, but the morning’s another story,” she sings.

McEntire also turns the lens on herself. She reminisces about diving “Into the darkest, thickest river water. Into the salt, the still, the rust,” in “Union Street Bridge” and finds “There is only what we came here to hide.” She reveals the construction of a fantasy life that was all for nought in “I Built A Town.”

So much reflection and simmering stirs up raw feelings. On “Miracle Temple Holiness” the anger begins to boil up again with the “Let it rise, let rise, let it rise” chorus. It comes to striking climax on the final track, “Telling The Hour,” which showcases the power of McEntire’s vocals as she asks for punishment:
Gimme whiskey, gimme wine,
And an unfaithful sky.
Gimme scars so dark,
I will have no choice but to remember.
It’s nothing short of stunning.

Miracle Temple — older and wiser — has a few new tricks. Fuller sound, better production, and the addition of organ and piano create a rich set of songs. There's more patience and as a result more flow and more cohesion.

Mount Moriah, with its immediate, urgent songs, may still be the catalyst through which listeners fall in love with the band, but Miracle Temple will push that love to new depths.

Miracle Temple will be released via Merge Records on February 26.

Mount Moriah’s official album release show will be April 12 at the Cat’s Cradle with Mac McCaughan and Airstrip. Tickets are $10 in advance, and anyone who buys a ticket to the show will receive a coupon good for 25% off a pre-order of Miracle Temple through the Merge store.

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