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
MembersMolly Erin Sarle
Alexandra Sauser-Monnig
Amelia Randall Meath[3]

Mountain Man is an American singing trio of women described as "nestled in the tradition of American folk"[4] with a traditional Appalachian folk sound. They have earned acclaim from a number of music critics.[5][6][7] They often sing a cappella, with a "sparse, haunting, hymnal beauty"[5] sometimes accompanied by soft acoustic guitar, but with their voices "virtually unadorned", according to Guardian critic Paul Lester.[6] 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".[8]

Early years[edit]

The three members of the group are Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig and Amelia Randall Meath.[3] They met as students at Bennington College in Vermont and began singing seriously together in 2009.[3] (They were invited back to Bennington a decade later in 2019 to be the commencement speakers.[9])Two come from "singing families" and one got experience singing in a church choir.[3] They were influenced in part by Bulgarian women's choir music, as well as artists such as Celine Dion.[3] 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."[10] Self-released recordings were picked up by influential blogs such as Pitchfork in late 2009, and they got a record deal[10] with the label Partisan and others.[1] They've been compared to the musical group The Roches.[3] Amelia Randall Meath is the daughter of television producer and professional Santa Claus Jonathan Meath, and lead singer in the band Sylvan Esso.

The trio met at Bennington College.


While they make decisions as a group, often they divide responsibilities, with Amelia often assuming the "manager role," Molly handling finances, and Alex deciding matters about sound quality in recordings, according to the group in an interview on NPR.[3] They toured the country after graduating from college by riding in a now-defunct 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 music group The Decemberists and with Jónsi.[3] They toured in Europe. One of their folk harmony songs was converted into electropop by multi-instrumentalist Paul Duncan of Warm Ghost.[11] In addition, Meath and Sarle contribute their vocal talents to the indie music group BOBBY.[12]


  • 2010 Made The Harbor
  • 2018 Magic Ship (Nonesuch Records)
  • 2019 Mountain Man Sings John Denver EP


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.[7] New York Times music critic Nate Chinen described their sound as "sparse, bewitching twist on Appalachian music"[13] with a feeling of "willful, collective intuition."[14] 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."[15]

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[16]

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[10]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ a b c d e f g h Rita Houston (March 2, 2011). "Mountain Man: No Instruments Required". NPR. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  4. ^ "Mountain Man". Underwater Peoples. 2011-03-03. Archived from the original on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  5. ^ a b Zara Golden (August 9, 2010). "Mountain Man". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b David Malitz (July 27, 2010). "Review of Mountain Man's album 'Made the Harbor'". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  8. ^ 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...
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c Jessica Hopper (October 29, 2010). "So far, so fast for women of Mountain Man". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  11. ^ Erick Sermon (March 2011). "Warm Ghost – Uncut Diamond EP -- Partisan Records: 2011". Music Nerdery. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  12. ^ Anthony Carew (May 23, 2011). "Introducing: Bobby". Retrieved 2011-05-24. Name: Bobby
  13. ^ NATE CHINEN (August 16, 2010). "Wilco Builds a Festival for Itself". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-03-03.
  14. ^ 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
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ John Robinson (19 June 2010). "Mountain Man, Manchester, London". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-03.

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