Mountain Man's all-female lineup doesn't boast a singularly stunning voice such as Robin Pecknold, or even Neko Case. What the Vermont-based throwback trio does possess, however, is an authentically Appalachian ethos that one-ups most of their indie-folk contemporaries in its beautiful sincerity. With a melodic, startling sound that features nothing but acoustic guitar and gentle vocals, the three singers of Mountain Man praise animals, romance, rivers and babies. The Bennington College-educated group's debut, Made the Harbor, was recorded in a turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor and has all the deep breaths and floor creaking of an old folk recording. On "Mouthwings," Mountain Man regales us (in trio form) with the lines One day I'll be my own Leadbelly/and I will grow a baby/oh he will move so swiftly/to hold me completely.
Amelia Randall Meath wrote "Mouthwings," and she's not even the band member who majored in literature. The three singers — Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Randall Meath — have a knack not only for singing as a mesmerizing unit but also for hypnotic lyrics. Take this scrap of poetry from "Mouthwings:" Give me back my bones/then maybe we can talk/between the sheets/it was just you and me/between the sheets/screaming so loud/staring so proud. Not surprisingly, the most powerful and engaging tracks on Made the Harbor feature no instrumental accompaniment. "Babylon" and "How'm I Doin" prove these young women could've captivated early-20th Century American dancehalls. Somehow, Mountain Man happens to exist in our time. And that's a great thing. (Partisan)