H.C. McEntire - Lionheart

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:8 Release Date:2018-01-26
H.C. McEntire - Lionheart
H.C. McEntire - Lionheart

Even for somebody who has had no direct contact with the US “true South” and knew it only through country music, it would be clear that it is not exactly abundant with liberal communities, nor that it is exactly open to anything that is considered as not ‘standard’ or ordinary’.

The usual subject matter of chart-bound country music reflects those attitudes and the general conservatism of the society it originates from. Ok, so Kinky Friedman’s humour and deep irony might slip by (but not in the American South, really), as might Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s and Handsome Family’s American Gothic themes. They could pass by there only as somewhat acceptable. But what about ‘real’ country music that deals with the author openly declaring that they (in this case, she) are gay? Maybe someday, but not yet. Not in earnest. That is the situation that H.C. McEntire, frontwoman of the trio Mount Moriah finds herself with on her first solo album, Lionheart. She comes from a strict Southern Baptist background, with Bible radio dominating the nightly airwaves, who, unsurprisingly, had a hard time coming open to her family, let alone the conservative society she grew up in.

That is probably where the title and the themes of the songs on Lionheart come from. But here’s the thing - McEntire was able to digest the essence of the music she grew up and lived with, and filled it with her own feelings and observations, without trying to jam those down any of her listener’s throats. What she sings about is so naturally interwoven into her vision of country music, that you just take it as it is, because it is simply good music, beautifully sung and played.

As far as the music is concerned, McEntire has a great singing voice, and a complete understanding and knowledge to come up with a truly listenable country tune. The fact that on her ‘debut’ (Mount Moriah had four out as a band) McEntire had help from Kathleen Hanna, Angel Olsen, Amy Ray, Tift Merritt, William Tyler, Mary Lattimore and Phil Cook, truly helps. But it is on the tracks like “Quartz In The Valley” or “One Great Thunder” where all the feeling, knowledge, and even sense of innovation (the use of strings) that McEntire possesses come to the fore. Well, maybe not just these two tracks. All of them.

It is only January, but Lionheart should certainly be on anybody’s list of best country albums this year.

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