Mt. Joy - Mt. Joy

by Mark Moody Rating:6 Release Date:2018-07-27
Mt. Joy - Mt. Joy
Mt. Joy - Mt. Joy

My daughter has some interesting hobbies.  One of those is creating an ever expanding playlist of songs that have Jesus as their central character.  But wait before I lose you on this, these aren’t religious songs - more like songs where a 20th or 21st century Jesus returns to Earth to just hang out at your party.  They run the gamut from Susto’s beer drinking Jesus of ‘Chillin’ on the Beach With My Best Friend Jesus Christ’ to Terry Allen’s car stealing Jesus of ‘Gimme a Ride to Heaven’ and quite a few in-between - ‘Cocaine Jesus’ anyone?  Well, it certainly didn’t take her long to catch wind a few years back of sunny L.A.-based and folk fueled Mt. Joy’s single ‘Astrovan’.  The song is sprinkled with the image of ‘angels smoking cigarettes on rooftops in fishnets’ and a pot smoking Jesus driving a Chevy van and listening to the Grateful Dead.  Apparently the Son of God has picked up some questionable habits on his return trip.

Fortunately for high school friends Matt Quinn (vocalist/songwriter) and Sam Cooper, the song’s popularity bankrolled them into being able to record a full length debut that came out in the U.S. in March, but is just now releasing in other parts of the world including the U.K.  Just like the lilting sing-along of ‘Astrovan’, the bulk of the album consists of folky, easy to go down tunes if you don’t think too hard about it.  The band certainly gets around geographically from San Francisco to Chincoteague and lots of other U.S. locales scattered throughout their songs.  That inclusiveness is sure to garner them a few extra fans at whatever shows and festivals they play.

Quinn’s awkward earnestness creates some clunky moments, like on ‘Bigfoot’ with the line “white kids don’t dance, they just follow commands” or on ‘Mt. Joy’ - “they can’t stop us, we’re like Ziggy Stardust’.  And though he pulls off a convincing falsetto on ‘Julia’ he tells her “you deserve a man to lead you” and it’s hard to follow what side of the fence he’s playing on ‘Sheep’, though no doubt it’s the proper one in recalling the Ferguson riots.  The topics and locales really just serve as window dressing for some beautiful melodies in spots and solid musicianship throughout.

‘Astrovan’ is a clear highlight and the aforementioned ‘Sheep’ with its heart likely in the right place is a cool jazz blast of chiming guitars and percussion.  ‘Silver Lining’ is a Lumineers-like sing-a-long of having no regrets over a life of “drugs, women, wine, and weed”.  Quinn does nail it all down on the soulful ‘Cardinal’ where he taps into some real grace - “you don’t have to come clean to me, everything’s exactly where it needs to be”.  And that’s perhaps the point here, we all have our vices and if this music goes down a bit easier with a few beers, some other intoxicant of choice and maybe a few laughs and tears among friends then crack open another one and roll with it.  Most of us have a soft spot for a well played sing-along folk album and Mt. Joy will have legions of fans that will throw another log on the fire after the sentimental closer ‘Younger Days’ and hit the repeat button.  Pot smoking Jesus wouldn’t have it any other way.        

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