Mount Moriah Returns With ‘Cardinal Cross’ From Upcoming Third Album


Photo by Andrew Synowiez.

If Mount Moriah can be said to have had a breakthrough, it came on the North Carolina band’s 2013 album “Miracle Temple.” Released on Merge, the band’s second LP most certainly reached a wider audience than its self-titled 2011 debut, thanks to songs like “White Sands,” which showcased Heather McEntire’s yearning, murmuring voice over a rootsy mix of piano, electric guitar and wistful vocal harmonies.

Mount Moriah’s third album, “How to Dance,” is due early next year on Merge, and the band offers an early taste with the new song “Cardinal Cross.” It’s immediately more robust than any of the tunes on “Miracle Temple,” opening with a brawny guitar line that powers the song while McEntire sings in tones at once delicate and earthy. The horns layered just below the surface are a nice touch that add depth and subtle texture, which contrasts with a terse teeter-totter vocal melody that aims for a dramatic and ends up feeling repetitive. The rugged “Calvander,” from a new three-song seven-inch the band released last month, also makes excellent use of horns, and the tune has an easy flowing lived-in feel that’s more compelling all around.

Here’s hoping “How to Dance” veers more toward the latter than the former. We’ll find out Feb. 26 when Merge releases the album.

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