Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Drew Thilmany at Echo Mountain, Asheville, North Carolina
Is there some place in the mountains that's the equivalent of making a pilgrimage to Joshua Tree? Is there a place out there, amongst the rocky beauty of the Appalachians or the Blue Ridge Mountains, where people go to lose themselves/find themselves quickly thereafter? Is there a place that people go because they know that they're going to run into a bear and now's the time to run into a bear, they're feeling tired enough that they might be able to pull the playing dead thing off and live to tell the tale? There must be a place, where you can still dig up some hidden stills of moonshine from the Prohibition days, that aged fire that's turned into something magical that's not only going to get you fucked up, but it's going to do it in a whole new way that you couldn't have expected.
Perhaps there's a place out there where the voices that are chain-smoking in your head call home and it's there that they can be reasoned with - right there on their own turf, where they take their mail and cook most of their meals. You need to go to them, but they've got to invite you all the same. It's frowned upon to just show up there uninvited. Those differences in decorum can be ironed out though and it might just take a fat lip before the ice is broken and everyone's got their arms around everyone else's shoulders, swaying to the liquor and the ever-present devils and ghosts.
Tennessee band This Mountain takes us to a place like this, a place where the hills are alight with what could pass as an awakening. It's like suddenly feeling like all of the blood has rushed to your head. It's a little like lowering oneself down into the vapors and the jets of a natural, warm water spring somewhere out there in those hills, in those nooks and crannies. This Mountain sings about "these trials, they come hard and fast," and, in that line alone, we know that they're willing participants in going out and seeing what more could or should be in-store for them that they're just not seeing. They're going to have to get out to where there's no reception, where there's an exclusion of everything that we think we just couldn't do without and they're going to have to lay it all on the line to determine how they're supposed to come out on the other side. They're not afraid of any of this taking too damned long, singing, "Don't fret my dear, I'll be back before the morning's light." She didn't want to see him go, but she knew it needed to be done. She could see it in the look that he gave