‘Hope’ is the second-album by Mountain Men. A duo featuring one man on guitar and vocals, and another member playing the harmonica, I’d argue that Mountain Men are one of the most underrated acts in the world today. Their country music has such an original slant on it, drawing on all the formalities of country music, but expressed in their own style. What makes Mountain Men’s music so great to listen to is the complete chemistry between its two and only members. Whilst the foreground of the music is occupied by the vocals, it is the instrumentation in the background that makes their music so impressive.
The harmonica playing on each song is at an insanely talented level. It acts like a voice of its own, and accompanies the acoustic riffs perfectly helping to add a dense layer to each and every song. This was present on the first album ‘Spring Time Coming’, and there was a wonderful mixture of upbeat songs and more slower songs. It was a highly impressive début album, that seemingly went unnoticed in the musical world.
With ‘Hope’, we see Mountain Men continuing to do what they do best. Their music is still twinged with the dense layers of harmonica, which helps to add so much more emotion to the music. The album feels as though it is split into two parts, with the first half containing more darker and slightly more aggressive songs, and the second half featuring much lighter and delicate songs. There’s a few surprises on this album, including a rather unconventional cover of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. It is an interesting version, and it is interesting to hear the band putting their unique slant on the song, using their own style to present it in a much different way.
Musically, this album is wonderful. The delicate songs feature beautiful acoustic riffs, accompanied by incredibly impressive harmonica playing. The vocals are as strong as they’ve always been, and in these delicate songs the lyrics are crooned compassionately and emotionally, giving the songs depth and emotion. The harmonica adds to this depth, as like I said, it feels like its own voice in the song, singing its own parts. The harmonica in Mountain Men’s music has always been highly impressive, and it hasn’t faltered for a second on this album.
‘Hope’ is a very impressive second album. From a band who remains relatively unknown, their music is still of such a high quality, with lots of effort being put into the writing, recording and presentation of each song. The band uses their strengths very well on this album, and you can see it in the songs that are the highlights on the album. As it is, I feel that the inclusion of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is an unnecessary one, as whilst it has merit of its own, I feel that it personally draws the listener out of the album due to awareness of the song itself. When the album plays its songs by Mountain Men, it draws you in and you can get lost in the dense layers of harmonica and guitar. I felt that as soon as I heard and recognised Nirvana’s lyrics on the album, that I was drawn out of this immersion quite suddenly. The awareness of the song was too much, and it is a shame because the music Mountain Men write are good enough in their own merit. That being said though the cover is good, don’t get me wrong. In conclusion, I feel that ‘Hope’ is a worthy second album, being every bit as good as ‘Spring Time Coming’. It is a shame with a band so unknown that not enough people know of them, as Mountain Men are a band worthy of recognition.
- ★★★★☆ 4/5
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