On January 26, H.C. McEntire, frontwoman of Mount Moriah, strikes out on her own with her debut solo album LIONHEART, a collection of songs inspired by the American South and a desire to reclaim “country” music from the hetero-normative, homogenous schtick of tailgates and six-packs and men chasing women. Stereogum describes her voice as “weary, wise, and bright as morning sunshine all at once,” and that sunshine glows throughout the triumphant LIONHEART.
For the album, McEntire collaborated with many of her favorite musicians, including Kathleen Hanna, Angel Olsen, Amy Ray, Tift Merritt, William Tyler, Mary Lattimore, and Phil Cook, while remaining bravely devoted to her most authentic self throughout the process. LIONHEART was recorded during the first few months of 2017 with additional recording and mixing taking place on the run as McEntire toured the world as a member of Angel Olsen’s band.
I came from people with machine grease on their hands. Dirt under their nails. The Bible by their bedsides. Cornmeal and buttermilk. People who need a porch to think, a red dirt row to get lost in, a revival to hunger for. But there are things that even a long, soft drawl can’t cover up. There are things you keep from even yourself.
In music, there are no rules. You make your own language. You can be both the Southern rock outlier and the twangy gospel conduit. You can be both the cherubic, honey-tongued innocent and the ardent punk. To get here-to find my lion heart-I had to become them all.
So I sank my teeth into Appalachia. I twisted toward the sky and let the sun blind me. I bought saltines from the dollar store. I shook dust off the hymnal. I set the silo on fire. I hemmed my lover’s dress. I pried white quartz from river banks and ridges. Wheeled them up the hill, barrow after barrow, in a fever. I had to mine for the truth.
LIONHEART was largely recorded in my living room, and it was mixed in the control room next to my bedroom by my best friend. If you listen close enough, you can probably hear some hound howls, some creaky wooden floors, some trains running their routes. All that’s in there. Some big grins, too, and high fives. A few tears, but the good kind-the kind that let you know you’re doing something hard. Something good and right, even if it’s swallowed you up so deep you forget what you’re making. Some days I felt so small, like the lizard on the front porch. Even smaller, like the spider in the lizard’s sight. But I kept on. I left some holes, too. Asked some friends to help fill them with whatever they were feeling-from Ojai to Atlanta, Lisbon to L.A. It was a joint effort: the yellow roses, the lamb, the dove, the wild dogs, the prickly pear.
I want this record to be, for you, whatever it needs to be. Over time, it’ll all change, come to mean something else. And that’s fine, too. Just know that it was born from a good shaking (thanks, Kathleen) and a little farmhouse at the end of a long, winding gravel road in the woods, where I gave in to the unknown, the written script, the blues, the joy-to the wild, wild world.
-H.C. McEntire, October 2017