The dynamic, virtuosic and ever-evolving acoustic outfit Mountain Heart have never sounded better than on their new Compass Records release, SOUL SEARCHING, out today, Friday, August 10. With deft arrangements and all members contributing to the songwriting, Mountain Heart continues to put their own contemporary twist to traditional acoustic music with the addition of piano (think Little Feat, Bruce Hornsby). The title track, a co-write with Mountain Heart’s Josh Shilling and the The Infamous Stringdusters (featured on their GRAMMY-winning album,Laws of Gravity), captures the restlessness and melancholy of deciding which direction to take in life.
Incorporating bluegrass, Americana and pop influences, Mountain Heart’s sound is a true hybrid — a surprising achievement for a band previously thought of as a traditional bluegrass band. Rolling Stone Country writes: “Mountain Heart manages to straddle the line between complete reinvention and staying true to their roots.”
SOUL SEARCHING’s 11 tracks are centered around the theme of pursuit and the various forms it can take: the search for self awareness, for an understanding of one’s place in the greater order of things and for the common bonds that unite us all. The title also refers to the changes that the members have been going through, both individually (new children, marriage, moving) and also as a band.
The group — Josh Shilling (piano, guitar), Seth Taylor (guitar), Aaron Ramsey (mandolin, bass) and Jeff Partin (dobro, bass) — are all top-notch players in the Southern music scene. Now a four-piece, Mountain Heart deftly reference different roots music styles, adding a pop sensibility and rock element courtesy of Shilling’s adventurous piano parts. Special guests on the album include Ronnie Bowman, Kenny Malone, Stuart Duncan and Scott Vestal.
The band shines on the album’s first single, “More Than I Am,” with a pulsing piano groove and driving mandolin rhythm providing the framework for Shilling’s soulful, uplifting vocal. Other standout tracks include “Festival,” capturing the mood and energy of the outdoor music fest experience with a laid-back groove that explodes into the grop sing-along chorus. By contrast, “No Complaints” cops the spirit of a New Orleans second line, achieving a cross between New Grass Revival and Little Feat, and the lush “Restless Wind” highlights the band’s unique combination of piano, string-band instrumentation, and three-part harmony.
Nominated for GRAMMYs, ACM and CMA awards, Mountain Heart has appeared on the revered stage of the Grand Ole Opry in excess of 130 times and has shared stages with acts ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Tedeschi Trucks Band, Levon Helm and the Punch Brothers to Merle Haggard, Alison Krauss and many others.
Streaming / order links available here
View the band’s recent PASTE MAGAZINE session here
Listen on AirPlay Direct
Aug 10 – Nashville, TN – The Grand Ole Opry
Aug 11 – Pelham, TN – The Caverns
Aug 23 – Knoxville, TN – Open Chord Music
Aug 24 – Washington, DC – City Winery
Aug 25 – Him Thorpe, PA – Mauch Chunk
Aug 30 – Charlotte, NC – White Water Center
Aug 31 – Manchester, KY – Manchester Music Fest
Sept 7 – Johnson City, TN – The Willow Tree
Sept 8 – Boone, NC – Blue Bear Festival
Sept 13 – Nashville, TN – Americana Music Fest. at High Watt
Sept 21 – Walhalla, SC – Walhalla Performing Arts Center
Sept 22 – Athens, GA – The Foundry
Oct 19 – Fayetteville, WV – Bridge Jam
Nov 3 – Franklin, NC – Smoky Mountain Cntr. for the Perf. Arts
Nov 9-11– Wickenburg, AZ – Four Corner States Bluegrass Fest.