Folk musicians are often more emotional. Or, they have more connective tissue in their songs: the fibers that bind them to each other and to the audience. Mountain Man, the mainly a cappella folk trio from “all over the United States of America,” is more than emotional. With their music and through their own inter-connectedness, Mountain Man makes you a part of their music.
Last night at the Mercury Lounge you could feel it. The three women, Amelia Randall Meath, Alex Sauser-Monnig and Molly Erin Sarle, didn’t just give and take energy from each other, they took it from the audience as well. But what was most affecting about the performance was actually how affected they themselves were. These women are not just musicians entertaining, they are almost sage like figures who guide those around them through song. Guide those around them to what? To inspiration.
Randall Meath’s father was in attendance, she announced. It was the first time he was to see his daughter perform in the band. She was clearly excited and the second to last song the band performed was a new one she’d written, “Mazda.” As she sang, “Oh, Dad. Oh, Dad…” Sauser-Monnig’s eyes welled with tears. She smiled and sang through the wet in her eyes. The others giggled at their stupendous beauty and bravery. It was a poignant moment that will surely be remembered fondly by all in attendance.
The most remarkable thing about Mountain Man is that each member has her own voice, her own musical styling, which is very apparent in the songs they each write. But yet they are a cohesive unit. They could be The Band.
Saucer-Monnig writes songs on the guitar, relying on the melody made by strings plucked by her fingers. She employs her airy soprano most beautifully on “Loon Song.” She sounds like a loon…
Randall Meath writes stark and dramatic a cappella songs. They are often abstract and feature harmonies so far beyond beautiful they can sound like bodies rubbing together.
Sarle’s songs are sexual. They ooze with sexual lyrics, but mostly they feel ecstacy-laden. You won’t be able to not grip tightly the hand of whomever is next to you. Lyrics from “Arabella”:
“When you wake up, I will be covered in, milky sweat and gray, gray, gray cashmere.”
Maybe it was the energy and excitement of playing a show at the Mercury Lounge, opening for a band they are fond of, The Middle East, or maybe it’s just the way things are when a band falls so perfectly into each other, “opening and closing,” as T.S. Eliot wrote. Last night was the best performance I’ve seen by Mountain Man.