Mount Moriah Mount Moriah
Heather McEntire doesn’t have the romanticized nostalgia for the old America shared by so many other punk singers who have gone country. On her first full-length with guitarist Jenks Miller as Mount Moriah, McEntire revisits the gospel-folk of her Southern Baptist upbringing with a deep ambivalence for the values that music represents, scoffing at the characterization of rural America as quaint and untroubled. “The South is not out West,” she fumes on “Social Wedding Rings.” “There’s nothing gentle about our stomachs full of gin.” With its stormy guitars, that song is fraught with enough turmoil for McEntire’s punk band Bellafea, but mostly, Mount Moriah takes a more traditional interpretation of Americana, setting McEntire’s sweetly quavering voice against finger-picked guitars, churchy organs, and on “We Don’t Need That Much,” some woodsy banjo from Megafaun’s Phil Cook. Consoling pedal-steel twang steadies “Reckoning,” the most sanguine of McEntire’s reflections on how religion complicates already-complicated sexualities, while the standout “Lament” spins a barbed breakup song into a gorgeous hymnal. With Bellafea, McEntire might have lingered on the good-riddance spitefulness of her lyrics, but Mount Moriah plays the song for celebration, building it to an uplifting sing-along that heralds a fresh start.