Informed by folk tradition while adhering to no rules, Eleanor Murray’s music exists in a genre all its own. On her latest outing, Bury Me Into the Mtn, she has created an album that is structurally complicated, while also sparse and open, full of warmth and light. Her chord progressions, rhythms and melodies draw as much from Appalachia as they do from jazz. Her lyrics are as cryptic as they are simple and straightforward. The album’s sonic landscape is completely its own.
Recorded in a renovated church during a windstorm, with members of Mount Eerie serving as her backing band, Bury Me Into the Mtn is an album that stops you in your tracks. From the big backing vocals of the album’s opener to its methodically sparse closing track, she creates a musical narrative that doesn’t release its listener until the whole tale has been told.
The moment that the otherworldly drums of “Virginia” come in, early in the album, a deceptively straightforward portrait of haunting Americana begins its slow burn. It’s a song that is addicting in how it avoids expectation, avoids being the pop song it promises from its onset. Addicting because its fire becomes only a beautiful snapshot, something that speaks volumes in what it leaves unsaid. “Bury Me Into the Mtn,” the album’s title track, is a song so sparse it becomes grand. It’s a song that feels inspirational, timeless. When Murray’s voice hits the low note of the melody line, its mountain burial is felt. While also carrying the weight of lifetimes, building and changing. Giving the hint that its subject is not death, but rebirth. “Great Carving” is perhaps the most striking of the album’s nine tracks. Based on a chapter from Ursula K. LeGuin’s translation of the Tao Te Ching, the song is played on vibraphone and accompanied by the beautiful harmonies of Paul Benson (Ever Ending Kicks, Mount Eerie). It’s a meditation that is confident, assured, powerful. A song that unveils a structure that is almost unnoticably complex, made all the more so with the unlikely drum patterns of Phil Elverum (Mount Eerie, The Microphones).
Bury Me Into the Mtn was recorded by Nicholas Wilbur (Hungry Cloud Darkening, Mount Eerie) at The Unknown in Anacortes, Wa. It was mastered by Ephriam Nagler (You Are Plural).