Glory Hope Mountain album review from The Acorn released through Bella Union.
Rolf Klausner, singer and main songwriter of Canada's 'The Acorn', may have surprised his bandmates somewhat when he told them that he wanted their debut, 'Glory Hope Mountain' to be a concept album celebrating his mother's life. I can picture the bassist and drummer exchanging uncomfortable 'Rolf's at it again.' looks across the practice room. After a couple of promising EPs released to acclaim within local indie circles, this is hardly a conventional way to rise to the challenge, and grasp the opportunity, of recording a debut album.
Our concerned rhythm section, should they have ever existed, need not have worried. The subject matter and narrative never overpowers the music; there is an easy balance and comfortable blending of personal messages with enjoyable indie-folk songs.
A clue as to our heroine's origin lies in some of the percussion parts, although anyone who can place the inspiration as specifically Honduran deserves full marks. The addition of these various instruments, (which may or may or not include gamelan and conga) is my favourite aspect of the record. The extra flavours lend the songs a distinctiveness they could not achieve otherwise. The record feels organic; except for electric guitars and bass, everything sounds like wood, skin or string. Cellos and banjos make themselves at home alongside guitars, drums, and the aforementioned percussion, soundtracking Klausner's mother's journey from a childhood flood in Honduras to Ontario.
The lyrics show deftness and an ability to express something quite specific in an original and if not not abstract, then certainly not mundane, way. I confess that without a press release I would have been oblivious to the fact that this is a concept album at all. The narrative hovers, almost embarrassed. at the fringes, and you'd probably have to be looking for it to find it. This, in my opinion, is the only way this record could succeed as it does, otherwise it would sound precious and overly earnest.
The album's most engaing moments are where the band really experiment with arrangements. On the more conventional songs, it could be easily to relegate the band to the legions of 'please listen to me and my friends strum' indie-folk folk. This they ill-deserve, but need continue experimenting with their songwriting to really set themselves apart.