Mountain Man did not intend to disappear for the better part of a decade, or to take eight years to release its second album, Magic Ship. But for a trio of devoted friends for whom music has always seemed so effortless and graceful, that’s simply how life went. The wondrous Magic Ship —a magnetic fourteen-song reflection on the joys, follies, and oddities of existence—was well worth the wait.
In 2009, when she was a student at a small liberal arts college in New England, Amelia Meath heard a gorgeous sound coming from the living room of her dormitory. She raced downstairs to find Molly Erin Sarlé singing “Dog Song,” a tender tune about lust, longing, and responsibility. Meath demanded that Sarlé, nearly a stranger, teach her the tune, which she, in turn, taught to a friend, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig. The next time the pair saw Sarlé, they sang “Dog Song” to, and then with, her. And so, Mountain Man was born.
The three weren’t quite yet friends when they performed, recorded, and even toured for the first time, but they each felt the chemistry within their combined voices, a sense of artistic kismet and kinship that some spend lifetimes seeking. Acclaim came quickly, with their debut—2010’s Made the Harbor, humbly recorded on rickety equipment in an abandoned factory—earning praise from The New York Times and the Guardian and prompting big tours.
But before they could return to the studio, post-collegiate life intervened. They kept in touch with near-weekly conference calls, growing as friends while taking a break from making music together. At last, they tested their again-blossoming friendship onstage in the summer of 2017 at the Eaux Claires music festival. On a tiny, cabin-like stage tucked into a forest, where audiences of a few hundred are considered big, Mountain Man captivated several thousand, with people climbing trees and fighting through stinging nettles to catch a glimpse or whisper. Hanging on every note and between-song quip, the crowd stood transfixed and silent—a festival miracle, there in the woods. And so, Mountain Man was reborn.
Months later, the trio reconvened at Meath’s home studio in Durham for two recording sessions, each bringing songs destined to be sung with old friends. The result, Magic Ship, is every bit as captivating as that day onstage. There is sincerity and humor, depth and mirth, all rendered with three voices that have never been more connected.
Mountain Man’s new album Magic Ship is available via Nonesuch Records. Order your copy here.
Opening Artist: Doug Paisley
Doug Paisley is an extraordinary singer and songwriter, celebrated in The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, and elsewhere.
The Canadian Alternative Country singer-songwriter previously toured with Bonnie Prince Billy under the name Dark Hand and Lamplight with artist Shary Boyle. Boyle would illuminate her art in the background while Paisley played the guitar and sang his songs. The pairing received recognition when they were selected to showcase at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2008.
Paisley has been featured both on CBC Radio in Canada and on National Public Radio in the U.S. His 2010 release Constant Companion received positive reviews in major publications such as The New Yorker and Spin and his his 2014 album Strong Feelings featured guest appearances by Mary Margaret O’Hara and Garth Hudson. It received positive reviews from Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. In 2018 Paisley contributed the song “Transient” to the compilation album The Al Purdy Songbook as well as released Starter Home. His newest album showcases an already brilliant songwriter getting even better. The songs are rooted in the sound of Folk and Country, and influenced by the many years he spent performing Bluegrass and American traditional music, but the themes are universal and expansive, not belonging to any genre.