H.C. McEntire - Eno Axis Music Album Reviews

With spacious live takes and poetic lyricism, the North Carolina songwriter’s second album brings order to the chaos of the day. Step inside Eno Axis and things immediately fall into place.

Back in March, when the world screeched to a monstrous halt, H.C. McEntire was already sitting still. The alt-Americana artist had decided to head back to her home state of North Carolina a few months earlier, after spending the better part of the last two years as a touring backup singer for Angel Olsen. To reorient herself, McEntire settled into a farmhouse on the wooded edge of the Eno River in Durham and started doing what most folks do each day: the laundry. The daily tasks of rural life and McEntire’s meaningful devotion to them define Eno Axis, the sophisticated yet relaxed follow-up to 2018’s all-consuming Lionheart.
Step inside Eno Axis and things immediately fall into place. On album opener “Hands for the Harvest,” a simple suggestion—“Early rise, start the fire, till the rows, pass the tithes”—hung across a sweet gospel waltz sets the pace. All that needs to get done today are the dishes, the song suggests. The stakes remain comfortingly low throughout Eno Axis. Stress only creeps in through the album’s weaker tracks. Thematically, “One Eye Open” is an outlier. Though the subject of white supremacy remains as upsettingly relevant as ever, its placement here is jarring. The song would’ve been better suited for Lionheart, where McEntire reckoned with her own history growing up as a closeted tomboy among a Southern Baptist family in a small town at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In addition to being a songwriter, McEntire is a skilled poet, and the poet’s devotion to both meaning and clarity comes through in many of these songs. You don’t have to wrestle with lines like “closer than a shadow cast,” because you know what it means. Her clever and clear wordplay recalls the style of another great queer poet, Mary Oliver. “She will leave like she appeared, eager-winged hummingbird,” sings McEntire on “River’s Jaw.” “I know someone who kisses the way a flower opens, but more rapidly,” writes Mary Oliver in “I Know Someone.”

The peaceful assurances that Eno Axis offers come in part from McEntire’s selective deployment of imagery and metaphor. A love that lasts “longer than a good night’s rest,” and is as “certain as the horse’s stare,” is a very nice thing to think about. But pretty verses alone could not soothe a sore the way this album does. McEntire’s musicianship works equally hard and just as effectively. She challenged herself to write in open tunings, giving a song like the gorgeous instrumental interlude “Sunday Morning” space to roam within itself, individual instruments gently bouncing off one another like the giant balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. A recording process that prioritized live takes and involved few overdubs also contributes to the album’s spontaneous and spacious atmosphere. The gentle, rolling drumbeat on “Footman’s Coat” and the rich, warm tones that McEntire and band member Luke Norton evoke from their instruments create a full sound that avoids the cloying style of Nashville country.

Restricted by a more confined, less spontaneous structure, the songs of Eno Axis would surely lose their healing powers. Their simplicity gives them strength and McEntire’s unfussy treatment makes for music that doesn’t distract from chaos but teaches us instead how to move through it. Eno Axis is both a wonderful album and a handy instruction manual for our times: Follow the simple suggestions tucked within McEntire’s songs and you may just feel your weariness begin to lift like morning mist burning off a river.
Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
H.C. McEntire - Eno Axis Music Album Reviews H.C. McEntire - Eno Axis Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, September 02, 2020 Rating:

0 comments:

Post a Comment