bright

This is an older review of the Wonderful Mountain’s “Bright Week”, originally posted on this site in July of 2013.

At the beginning of his new album, Bright Week, Chad Marine (a.k.a. the Wonderful Mountain) sings of Saint Antony, the patron of lost things and people. Over a rushed guitar strum, the artist sings,

I fell into the flood

In body and in blood

And I came up bright.

Though the words are profound and spoken with outright seriousness, the song borders on joviality (a far stretch from Marine’s previous work), but I suspect it’s with good reason.  He says that the album coincided with his Baptism through the Eastern Orthodox Church.  The songs seem to reflect that Baptism, and the pilgrimage that led to it.  They are populated by holy Saints of the tradition, by moments of spiritual clarity, and by a renewed sense of joy.  He says that there was nothing specific tying the songs together, but listening to them, I can hear themes of rebirth and restoration (and the joy that follows) written all over it.

He translates the tale of martyred Saint Catherine and the paranormal destruction of a torture wheel into a rousing folk number that sounds like a lost Carter Family song.  He draws inspiration from the old story of the righteous pelican that wounded herself to feed her young.  The stories are ancient, passed down for generations, but they’re full of spiritual vigor and brimming with holy relevance.

There has always been a heavy sense of impending righteousness in Marine’s songs, and though it’s still here, his focus has turned to something that’s, well, brighter.   Near the end of the album, perhaps guided home by Saint Antony himself, the artist casts off the pessimism of the world and sheds that unholy darkness that so easily binds us.  He gently beckons,

Let’s sing no more songs of hopelessness…

Amazing what a little divine perspective can do.

Bright Week can be found at https://thewonderfulmountain.bandcamp.com/album/bright-week

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Wilder

So here we find ourselves at nature’s crossroads—that transitional purgatory between winter and spring, where the dead things of wintertime fade among the buds of a new season. Birds are reappearing against gray skies. Winds are blowing from new directions. It’s an appropriate climate for Wilder Adkins new record, Hope & Sorrow. Through 12 dreamy songs, Adkins sings in that middle ground where heartache meets love, questions meet faith, and joy blends with pain. The songs are quiet, led by Adkins’ gentle guitar and dulcimer work, but there are extra flourishes this time around as well. There are bursts of string-work and ethereal harmonies. Though each song feels small and intensely personal, there is a grandness to the record. It is Adkins grappling all night as Jacob did, fighting for blessing. It is the artist trying to make sense of those gray, middle grounds. In this world of Hope & Sorrow, time is fading, flowers are blooming and life is flooding in.

You can listen to and purchase the album at https://wilderadkins.bandcamp.com/