Mount Eerie - Now Only
Last year's A Crow Looked at Me was a gut wrenching punch straight to the heart. Mount Eerie all but chronicled the death of his wife and mother of his child on that album and in doing so presented a look a grief that few artists had ever been able to capture. The way Mount eerie sings is so conversational, the stories vividly described yet still intensely beautiful. The album opens with a gentle acoustic guitar and a recounting of the first time He met his wife and the beginning of their burgeoning love. It's so emotional because you know where this is going, and as the song progresses we end up at her deathbed with pretty memories of the life that once was. There is a version of this record, Now Only, and his previous that are far to sad, and far to wrought with pain to work on any level, yet He is able to make that pain feel like an experience you need to have and one that is extremely important. Before the passing of his wife Mount Eerie's music was far more natural, all about trying to capture the natural beauty of his hometown and the forests that surround it. But Now Only makes that all feel a bit trivial, not time wasted but time spent without intense deep emotional meaning. "Distortion" an autobiographical tale of Mount Eerie's early 20s seeks to explain how the things we thing are important all fall victim to the crushing pressure of time and eventually fall away. A pregnancy scare at 23 years old creates a existential crises and takes him on this winding journey of discovering who HE might be as a young father who still wanted to be a (relatively) famous musician. The title track somehow creates this bright sound around all this death, and details how odd it is for your saddest most painful moment also becomes your most popular album.
If you are looking for light fare however Now Only has nothing for you. It feels almost like a direct extension of A Crow Looked At Me, not that anyone expects Phill Elverum to be over this massively traumatic death but every inch of these two records is about nothing else. It's guitar and vocal 90% of the time so some of the sentiments start to blend together. He is saying some really beautiful and poetic things, but the sheer volume is a bit overwhelming. It's this huge weight to bear and Mount Eerie deals with it by singing about it, but the listener is forced to confront their own emotions about death and loss because it is right in your fucking face. You've already cried and felt with Elverum on A Crow Looked At Me and doing it all over again feels a bit like a chore. Yet the emotions are still wildly beautiful and real, something that every person is going to have to deal with at some point in their life. The album is only six tracks but 48 minutes long leading to these word heavy songs that feels more like a dramatic reading set to music than a song. Yet in all of this there is this sense that this music, this album and this period of Mount Eerie's life is very important. Yet maybe this important message has become somewhat diluted by a second go round, It certainly feels that way.
7.9 out of 10