Mountain Man (band)

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Mountain Man
Background information
OriginBennington, Vermont, U.S.
GenresIndie, folk, a cappella
Years active2009–present
LabelsPartisan,[1] Bella Union,[1] Spunk, P-Vine
Associated actsFeist,[2] Bobby, Alt-J, Sylvan Esso, Daughter of Swords[3]
MembersMolly Sarlé
Alexandra Sauser-Monnig
Amelia Randall Meath[4]

Mountain Man is an American singing trio of women described as "nestled in the tradition of American folk"[5] with a traditional Appalachian folk sound. They have earned acclaim from a number of music critics.[6][7][8] They often sing a cappella, with a "sparse, haunting, hymnal beauty"[6] sometimes accompanied by soft acoustic guitar, but with their voices "virtually unadorned", according to Guardian critic Paul Lester.[7] The group toured with the vocalist Feist in 2011,[2] and New York Times music reviewer Ben Ratliff described their performance as "creating shifting harmonies" which "worked perfectly".[9]


The three members of the group are Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath.[4] They met as students at Bennington College in Vermont and began singing seriously together in 2009.[4] (They were invited back to Bennington a decade later in 2019 to be the commencement speakers.[10])Two come from "singing families" and one got experience singing in a church choir.[4] They were influenced in part by Bulgarian women's choir music, as well as artists such as Celine Dion.[4] According to one report, they would sit on the porch of a shared house in Bennington and harmonize on songs they had written; when they sang as a trio, they realized it was "something special."[11] Self-released recordings were picked up by influential blogs such as Pitchfork in late 2009, and they got a record deal[11] with the label Partisan and others.[1] They've been compared to the musical group The Roches.[4]

The trio met at Bennington College.

While they make decisions as a group, often they divide responsibilities, with Meath often assuming the "manager role," Sarlé handling finances, and Sauser-Monnig deciding matters about sound quality in recordings, according to the group in an interview on NPR.[4] They toured the country after graduating from college by riding in a car which they named Delores. Their first album is entitled Made the Harbor on the label Partisan Records (North America), Bella Union (Europe), Spunk (Australia), and P-Vine (Japan). They toured with The Decemberists and with Jónsi.[4] They toured in Europe. One of their folk harmony songs was converted into electropop by multi-instrumentalist Paul Duncan of Warm Ghost.[12]

Look at Me Don’t Look at Me, a live album recorded in November 2018, was released in August 2020.[13]



Washington Post music critic David Malitz described their voices as "nectar-sweet" which was almost "jarring in its simplicity" with no distractions from the trio's voices.[8] New York Times music critic Nate Chinen described their sound as "sparse, bewitching twist on Appalachian music"[14] with a feeling of "willful, collective intuition."[15] Their music sounds as if it's "being sung by ghosts", "spectral and spooky", when they echo "folk songs about the forest" as well as "the bedroom".[1] National Public Radio gave a similar account and described their music as weaving "voices into a stark, reverent and unadorned sound that can be hauntingly beautiful."[16]

Other reactions include:

Long on ghostly voices and skeletal arrangements, the music made by Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath on their Made The Harbor album – recorded in an abandoned factory – sounds like a cousin to that made in Bon Iver's snowbound bolt hole. Impressively, Mountain Man have created a music from another time and place, a closed environment they're now opening up to all.

— John Robinson in The Guardian, 2010[17]

The tunes — despite being originals written in the last two years — sound like they could be early-century hymns, or covers of protofolk tunes gleaned from old Smithsonian field recording compilations. Mountain Man's sound would have the listener assuming its members are old-timey Appalachian maidens, rather than coeds touring in a Prius.

— Jessica Hopper, Chicago Tribune, 2010[11]

Other projects[edit]

Sauser-Monnig released her debut solo album, Dawnbreaker, under the name Daughter of Swords in July 2019.[18] Molly Sarlé released her debut solo album, entitled Karaoke Angel, in September 2019.[19] Amelia Meath is a member of the electronic duo Sylvan Esso which has released three full-length albums, the most recent being Free Love, released September 2020.[20] In addition, Meath and Sarle contribute their vocal talents to the indie music group BOBBY.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d "Pop and Rock Listings". The New York Times: Music. December 9, 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  2. ^ a b Amanda Hatfield (September 9, 2011). "Mountain Man backing Feist on tour (dates)". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved 2011-09-19. It's recently been announced that Feist is taking Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath, aka the voices of folk trio Mountain Man, on tour with her this fall ...
  3. ^ "Daughter of Swords". Daughter of Swords. Retrieved 2019-11-25.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Rita Houston (March 2, 2011). "Mountain Man: No Instruments Required". NPR. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  5. ^ "Mountain Man". Underwater Peoples. 2011-03-03. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  6. ^ a b Zara Golden (August 9, 2010). "Mountain Man". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  7. ^ a b Paul Lester (7 June 2010). "Mountain Man (No 802): Inspired by the traditional folk, country and Appalachian stylings of Gillian Welch, this trio are the female Fleet Foxes". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  8. ^ a b David Malitz (July 27, 2010). "Review of Mountain Man's album 'Made the Harbor'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  9. ^ Ben Ratliff (November 3, 2011). "A Voice of Gray Moods, Joined by 100 Whistlers". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-11-13. The women sang isolated parts and created steady shifting harmonies ... Their sound worked perfectly here...
  10. ^ "Commencement | Bennington College". Retrieved 2020-03-09.
  11. ^ a b c Jessica Hopper (October 29, 2010). "So far, so fast for women of Mountain Man". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  12. ^ Erick Sermon (March 2011). "Warm Ghost – Uncut Diamond EP -- Partisan Records: 2011". Music Nerdery. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  13. ^ "Mountain Man New Live Album, 'Look at Me Don't Look at Me,' Out Now on Nonesuch Records". Nonesuch Records. August 7, 2020. Retrieved August 8, 2020.
  14. ^ Nate chinen (August 16, 2010). "Wilco Builds a Festival for Itself". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  15. ^ Nate chinen (August 1, 2011). "The 3 Women of Mountain Man, in Perfect Harmony". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-09-19. The lack of amplification was a reminder, if any were needed, of rural Vermont... willful, collective intuition
  16. ^ "Newport Folk 2011: Mountain Man, Live In Concert". NPR. July 31, 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-19. weaves its voices into a stark, reverent and unadorned sound that can be hauntingly beautiful.
  17. ^ John Robinson (19 June 2010). "Mountain Man, Manchester, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  18. ^ Greene, Linnie (July 9, 2019). "Daughter of Swords: Dawnbreaker". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  19. ^ Wicks, Amanda (September 23, 2019). "Molly Sarlé: Karaoke Angel". Pitchfork. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
  20. ^ "Sylvan Esso | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-01-04.
  21. ^ Anthony Carew (May 23, 2011). "Introducing: Bobby". Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-24. Name: Bobby

External links[edit]