Mount Moriah at Schubas | Concert preview
North Carolina punk scene vets channel Dolly Parton.
Mount Moriah singer Heather McEntire has garnered numerous comparisons to early Dolly Parton, and rightfully so. The North Carolina native’s sparrow-like warble flutters effortlessly between a vulnerable quiver and warm, confident drawl. A former poetry major, McEntire often spins tales from the landscapes of the American South where, like Parton, she was raised in modest circumstances. Her earliest musical memories are of the gospel tunes that echoed throughout the region’s Southern Baptist churches, and those seeds sprouted into an adolescence soundtracked by the twang of popular country music that filled her family’s farm in the western part of the Tar Heel State.
But the similarities end there. For the better part of the last decade McEntire and Mount Moriah guitarist Jenks Miller have been entrenched in the punk scene of the “Triangle,” the area formed between Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh. They became friends while working together at a record store and that camaraderie carries through on their Merge Records debut, Miracle Temple, with captivating folk-rock that’s slow-burning but full of passion. Lyrics address everything from McEntire’s wrestling with her faith to life as an out lesbian in the South.
“Those girls have had their eye on you since you moved to town / You can take them home as long as no one finds out,” she sings on “Those Girls.” It’s just one example of McEntire’s gift for combining an ethereal delivery with confessions that are raw but never off-putting, not unlike Parton’s “Jolene.” “Find out who you are, and do it on purpose,” the Country Hall of Famer once said. We can’t imagine that McEntire would disagree.