There’s a certain brand of folk rock that just suits us here at EarToTheGround and Mt Joy seem to have that sound figured out. It’s energetic and has some really great harmonies, thoughtful lyrics, and an overall enjoyable listening experience. Mt Joy is one of the most exciting rising folk bands we’ve found recently and we’re excited to delve into this fantastic debut self titled album.
“I’m your wreck” starts the album with some tangible energy. The lyrics are raw in places, talking about how life is not always easy. It’s about surviving with someone you love. It’s almost melancholy lyrically, even while you’ll be tapping your toes and singing along. It’s kind of what I wish country music still was.
“Dirty love” is probably not a track you’ll want to play at a family party, but it definitely conveys a particularly powerful emotion. It’s raw and real in the best way possible. Something about these songs feel like they were written in gritty green rooms on hard riding indie tours. We’ll have to get in touch with the songwriters and find out; this one sounds like if folk had a grunge side.
The following “Silver Lining” is one of the most commercially viable songs on the album. It’s one that we heard early in the process and were immediately hooked. There’s a litany of sins or vices or whatever you want to call them, but it’s ultimately about saying life is worth living and we need to hang on. Even though life is hard and we want to numb ourselves or escape it all, we need to stick with it. “Let the music play through the pain.” A-freaking-men.
“Sheep” explores a softer side of the band and one that, frankly, I could really get into. There’s a sweetness to the composition that allows it to permeate. Once the guitars hit, there’s a kind of 70s James Taylor feel to it. I appreciate the imagery and especially the sassiness in the lead vocal expressing pain and injustice.
“Julia” is a love song with a great groove. It reminds me a little bit of something from Ray Lamontagne. Then the album transitions to a track named for the band (or is the band named for the track?) called “Mt Joy,” a truly unique indie folk rock exploration. It rises and moves with a lot of passion. I love the way the electric guitar dances around the vocals, bringing everything together in balance.
The track “Astrovan” is about how Jesus drives and Astrovan and it’s pretty much one of my favorite things I’ve heard so far this year. It’s got a really cool comedic lyricism about spirituality and controlled substances. I’ll let you spin it for yourself to learn more, but it’s a hoot.
“Jenny Jenkins” starts off relaxed, but then builds with a ton of interesting energy. The lyrics are introspective, encouraging the listener to think about how you’ve gotten where you are in life. If you’ve ever had a past relationship that helped to shape you, you’ll enjoy this one. Musically it’s one of the most fun on a really fun album.
The final two tracks bring the album in for a nice landing. “St George” has a darker feel to it, but ultimately works well. It’s more minimalist, but the lyrical style will make you think of Kurt Cobain, no exaggeration. The final track “Younger Days” then is more typical of the Mt Joy style, with glowing guitars and a folk rock aesthetic. The lead vocal transitions into and out of the falsetto with ease, creating a delicate nature to the melody. It’s really a remarkable track to finish up a quality album.
If you’re not already a fan of Mt Joy, you will be after spending some time with this album. There are some references to drug use and some flippant relationships, but at the core of the album is a sincere search for meaning. I hope that our readers will enjoy the music and take the lyrics seriously; there’s some real meaning and nostalgia throughout the album that is deeply satisfying. This album is folk rock music done well.