If you haven’t been following the evolution of Mountain Heart closely this past few years, you might be surprised by their new look and sound. The group that started with bluegrass superheroes Steve Gulley, Adam Steffey, Jim VanCleve, and Barry Abernathy has all new members, with a more pop-inflected sound that still draws on the band’s bluegrass roots.
The biggest change has come through the singing and songwriting of Josh Shilling, who has brought his main instrument, the piano, into the string band environment. An unusually gifted vocalist, Josh brings his many influences from the blues, rock, and Gospel world into the music Mountain Heart makes which truly defies description. It certainly isn’t bluegrass, though the elements are there, and it sure isn’t country, though you hear that as well. Would pop acoustic fit what they do? Perhaps so.
The band is completed by all star picker Aaron Ramsey, a master of all stringed instruments, fiery guitarist Seth Taylor, and bassist/reso-guitarist Jeff Partin. After a number of reorganizations, this four-piece lineup has some new music that is less aggressive than some of their jam band gyrations, and with a very pleasing, poppy vibe.
On this video for More Than I Am, written by Shilling and Marcus Hummon, they lay down a very radio-friendly sound, reminiscent of what Bruce Hornsby did when he hit the scene hard in the mid-1980s. Mandolin, guitar, bass, and piano – the latest string band setting!
Can’t wait to hear more of this.
A new album is expected soon, and the band starts a tour this week that will run through early May.