Skip to main content

New Old-School Lullabyes: Mountain Man

Here's a real-life fairy tale for you. My college roommate's little sister started singing along to Cindi Lauper songs with a couple of her college friends... which led to singing other songs together, some original compositions... which led to a MySpace page to share their singing with family and friends... which led to an unexpected discovery, record deal, and international tour.

Their music was never designed to have mass-market appeal or even marketability to a specific niche. Their songs are mostly a capella, with a little acoustic guitar here and there. It is classified as "folk music" and compared to Appalachian folk singing, but the compositions are original and have no direct roots in Appalachian traditions. This is just the result of three Midwestern girls playing freely with voice and harmony, which serendipitously struck a chord with listeners across the United States and Europe.

Listen to Mountain Man on NPR's World Cafe here.

Mountain Man's songs are haunting, beautiful, musically interesting, yet spare. They will make lovely lullabies for my baby, but they are very much appealing to the more sophisticated adult ear. They have an old-fashioned tone, enhanced by Biblical or folkloric-sounding lyrical themes, and yet they are fresh and new.

There is nothing commercial or easily definable about Mountain Man's music, and that is part of its rare seduction. The music sounds just plain authentic--but authentic to what? The singers make no claim to be part of a movement or established style. Their singing is wholly authentic to themselves, to their unique voices and creative impulses, and it shows.

Like in the world of literature, sometimes an artist stumbles into accidental fame because their singular preferences just so happen to captivate those around them with such resonance that the experience must be shared. It seems that this never happens intentionally. Artists who try to break the mold and forge new genres or styles or movements in contrast to popular trends rarely achieve widespread followings. It is these introspective types, following an impulse or a pleasure or an artistic question to its full depth, who find these perfectly balanced harmonies. Often they only serve to fulfill the artist's own creative needs, but when the frequencies align just right, sometimes the work explodes into something the creator can neither anticipate nor control.

Made the Harbor is Mountain Man's debut album, which sounds as though it was recorded and produced in the eerily calm eye of their first whirlwind tour. I recommend this album as a family-friendly home soundtrack with cross-generational charm, as a moving but soothing inspiration for writers and other artists, and as a very hip and distinctive gift for anyone who loves music.

Next month, Mountain Man will be performing in Australia, and after that they will join The Decemberists on another U.S. tour. Check out venues on their website.


  1. How awesomely cool!!!!!

    When I get home, I'll give it a listen. I'm blown away - how fortunate for them! Wow!

  2. WC: I hope you do! It's a vocal masterpiece--and a darn good success story.

    Liza: Hello, Frenchie friend! :) Tell your sister I'm a fan!


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

35 Great Things About Turning 35

The prime of life starts at 35! It's the best-kept secret from younger people, but your 35th birthday is a major cause for celebration. For mine, I have made my own listicle of 35 reasons why experts agree that 35 is the best age to be:
You get to say, "I'm 35." The number 35 carries so much more gravitas than 30, but you're only a few years older. At 34, I've started fudging my age--by adding a year. People automatically take me seriously, and if they don't, at least they tell me I look young for my age. (Eye roll, hair toss, "whatever.")  35-year-olds DGAF. Inner chill reaches new heights at 35. Despite its #2 status on this list, it's the #1 response I hear about what's best about hitting 35. My gorgeous friend Nerlie was beautiful and resilient and wise beyond her years in high school, but now, at age 35, she gets to fully enjoy being herself on her own terms. She writes,  "I've survived so much that I don't waste time o…

A Bad Romance Starring Till Lindemann, Sophia Thomalla, Gavin Rossdale, Simone Thomalla, Sven Martinek, Andy LaPlegua, and Leila Lowfire

November 2018 Update: Sophia is settled in with Gavin a young soccer player (like mother like daughter) now, I guess, and Till is spending time with 36-year-old (hell yeah, thank you, sir) Ukrainian singer Svetlana Loboda. He is either her latest babydaddy or doing her the favor of bearding as such (not that he's great with beards, but we don't mind--we know how much he loves pregnant and lactating ladies) to help her keep some distance from her crazy ex who cuts his wrists over her. The juice continues...

To misquote Gaga, "I don't speak German, but I can look at foreign tabloids and guess what's going on if you like."

I guess it would be more professional and ladylike for me to be above this sordid celebrity gossip, but I'm not. I'm so not.

So let's see if I've got this straight. From what I gather...

Metalgod Till Lindemann, 54, and model Sophia Thomalla, 27 (upper left) recently exited a five-year, on-off, opennish relationship, which bega…

Ich Liebe Rammstein: Richard

Richard Z. Kruspe
Richard Zven Kruspe is Rammstein's founding father, lead guitarist, and natural frontman.

***IMPORTANT UPDATE, 2018***: Richard has immortalized his lifelong bromance with Till in a tender duet about their friendship, "Let's Go" by Richard's side band Emigrate. Till sings words such as "Zwei Herzen in mir schlagen" with sincerity and I think I am now deceased.

He's gregarious, well-spoken in both German and English, a professional showman, and an enthusiastic promoter for the band. In German, his name is pronounced "REE-kard," and in Germanglish, "Reeshard," or "Reesh" for short. Richard is sexy, and he knows it. To many Rammstein fans, he is the cuuuuuuute one. His Facebook page would have you believe it.

Legend has it that Richard has a lovechild with lead singer Till Lindeman. The myth is based in complicated facts and figures, including one unconventional love triangle. Circa 1990, Richard and Till …