Music Review: Magic Ship

by Mountain ManNonesuch
reviewed by John Malkin
Magic Ship album cover

One secret ingredient of the new album Magic Ship by Mountain Man are the amazing harmonies. The three singers—Molly Sarlé, Amelia Meath, and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig—have created a wise, intimate, and humorous set of Appalachian-style folk music-stories. These 14 a cappella songs flow at a very relaxed pace; while listening you may feel like you’ve been transported to a soft field of grass, lying comfortably on your back, with clouds and blue sky above and the delicate rhythms of birds and crickets chiming nearby (audible, in fact, in the background of some songs).

After Mountain Man released their debut album in 2010—Made the Harbor—the three vocalists headed in different directions: Meath started the electronic duo Sylvan Esso, while Sauser-Monnig returned to Minnesota and Sarlé lived at a California Zen center. In 2017, the trio reunited and recorded Magic Ship in Meath’s home studio in Durham, North Carolina.

Mountain Man musicians

Photo by Shervin Lainez

Simplicity is another special ingredient of Magic Ship. Nature and friendship, bumblebees and human emotions are the subjects of these songs, with three covers, including the traditional hymn “Bright Morning Stars.” On “Rang Tang Ring Toon” the trio sings playfully about a gathering of friends that included music, a meal, and skinny-dipping: “The water’s full of naked bodies swimming.” And the lyrics to “Guilt” are spot on: “You can think about it / you can think about it all the time / and be mean to your insides / and forget that you were ten or twelve / or even twenty-five / or it can just be something that happened that way / that makes you who you are today.” —JM  

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