Tales of Criminality, Hopelessness and Memories, Translated into Verse
Recorded in his home studio in Phoenix, Arizona, during the 2020 Pandemic, Murder Mountain by Johnny Ironsights is an album of songs that burn like a fuse towards what you know is an inevitable destruction.
Outlaw Country meets in your face Punk, tinged with an ash of slow burn Gothic-Americana.
Less of a mash-up, more of a retooling.
The title track, “Murder Mountain,” is a cinematic crime-infested story of isolationism and drugs. It would work wonderfully as a soundtrack to a film such as Winter’s Bone, and is perfect as the kick-off single for the album, yet my ears keep going back to “Three Nickels for a Pack of Smokes,” with it’s warm nostalgia and playful melody.
“Before the Quake (Summer of ’95)” tells a tale of friendship, open mic nights, and teenage dreams.
Nostalgia without the novelty.
Ironsights’ voice, big and bellows-like, may be the closest Americana has to the rocker Meatloaf; a voice which envelops the songs, strengthening them, enriching them. Ironsights has big ideas and isn’t afraid to chase them in a song. True tales of criminality, hopelessness, memories, translated into verse. Fearlessness is one of the best tools a songwriter can have, and Ironsights knows it.
In the closing song, “When I’m Gone, When I’m Dead” Ironsights exclaims
“Like birds trying to fly with broken feathers,”
and I wonder: Is he wishing or invoking?
Drama is no stranger to popular music, as death has long been a part of folk music. Ironsights is doing an admirable job of keeping up the tradition.
If I have any complaints about Murder Mountain it would be that Ironsights’ punchy vocals can get a little tiresome, and as much as I love a good pedal steel, it could use a rest on a few of these tunes (a bit meandering – ‘less is more’?)
Yet Ironsights does have a way with words and storytelling that causes many of these songs to rise way past any perceived musical faults.
Review? The legendary Roy Peak
Released March 5th 2021
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