Mount Eerie
Dawn


4.5
superb

Review

by joshuatree EMERITUS
February 5th, 2009 | 43 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Quickly forgetting was the way I lived my life.

Tonight, I’m not falling asleep; I’m letting Phil Elvrum take me there. As I listen to Mount Eerie’s Dawn play softly through my computer speakers, I realize that Dawn is the testament of a man who also can’t fall asleep and also needs a sort of guide to get there, writing and improvising troubled acoustic ballads as a method of release. As Dawn ends, Phil Elvrum seems to have said all he needs, and his mind is now at rest, now he's ready to finally succumb to sleep.

I’m not so lucky, though, as my mind’s racing wildly in excitement of what I just heard, keeping me up far into the night with pleasure. Who wouldn't want to be kept awake by such a spectacular release: Mount Eerie’s Dawn is Phil Elvrum’s finest achievement under his (relatively) new pseudonym, being nineteen quiet folk songs that find the indie hero doing away with the fuzz and distortion that his previous works were so associated with, resulting in an album that’s more personal and obvious, as well as being calmer, than anything he’s written before.

Dawn concerns itself with topics Elvrum has hit before: nature and heartbreak. But, while Microphones albums such as Mount Eerie and The Glow pt. 2 undoubtedly featured these themes, they each did in a “big” way, describing huge issues such as death and loss and destruction (heartbreak), and mountains and air and water and space (nature). Dawn is a different sort of album: Elvrum’s lyrics are less flamboyant and are more isolated, confined to the tiny cabin where Elvrum’s telling his story.

I say “telling his story” for a reason, as Dawn certainly feels autobiographical. Armed with his trusty nylon strings, Elvrum spins a tale that happens to be told in song form, and is also accompanied with his pleasant guitar playing. Elvrum opens with “It Wasn’t the Hunting”, describing a normal day ‘in the wild’ Jack London-style, claiming to ‘crack open streams’ and ‘throw spears into snowbanks’, and he rattles his accomplishments off like someone who’s perfectly content in his loneliness. From Dawn’s first chapter, you get the feeling that Elvrum doesn’t even need anyone else, that he has too much to handle with the great outdoors.

From there, Elvrum (or Dawn’s narrator, who’s presumably Elvrum) seems to change, and starts to experience the pain of that lost relationship and the rigmarole of loneliness, documenting his need for another caring force (“With My Hands Out), revisiting past demons and conquering them and turning them into whole new beasts (“Moon Sequel”, which is an excellent, stripped down reimaging of Elvrum’s greatest song), and even becoming depressed enough to have to argue with himself, as found in “A Show of Hands”.

These tracks, and every track on Dawn in that case, are all remarkably similar when regarding instrumentation and structure, as they’re all quiet and purely acoustic and heavy on melody. But don’t let that fool you that Dawn gets stuck in sameness and becomes uninteresting. You’ll become captivated by Elvrum’s tale, his battle with nature and depression, and it’s rather easy for the listener to find parallels between their own experiences and Elvrum’s. There’s also a large quantity of songs, such as the upbeat “Great Ghosts” and the heartbreaking “Cold Mountain”, with strong melodies that almost veer on the edge of being catchy. Having a few memorable songs that get stuck in your head has never really been an Elvrum specialty, and Dawn inadvertently benefits from this.

Some will dismiss Dawn for being too simple and too obvious and possibly too depressing, but that’s where the album’s magic lies. Dawn charms you despite its dark feel, convincing the listener to sit a spell and be captivated by the intricacies of a story that we’ve all lived out. It’s a near masterpiece, and finds one of the better songwriters of the past decade back at top form, creating a poignant work with ease. I couldn’t be happier, despite any lost sleep I might experience.



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user ratings (163)
Chart.
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
SnackaryBinx
February 5th 2009


2309 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i like phil elvrum

joshuatree
Emeritus
February 5th 2009


3741 Comments


album is so goooood

gaslightanthem
February 5th 2009


5208 Comments


yes ME is good stuff, elvrum is awesome

Mendigo
February 5th 2009


2299 Comments


neeeeeeed this.

plane
Emeritus
February 5th 2009


7306 Comments


didn't i write this

NortherlyNanook
February 5th 2009


1285 Comments


I didn't hear about; I need to get it now. 3 ME releases last year? Not bad.

Minus The Flair
Emeritus
February 5th 2009


870 Comments


Really need to give more attention to Elvrum. Sweet review.

CushMG15
February 5th 2009


1810 Comments


Great Review. I'm checking this out right now.

rasputin
February 5th 2009


14968 Comments


oh I missed this review. rulez

slan
February 7th 2009


50 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I really liked Lost Wisdom. I hope this is just as good.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
February 7th 2009


4948 Comments


Moon Sequel yesssss

joshuatree
Emeritus
February 7th 2009


3741 Comments


you should really get this if you haven't already

gaslightanthem
February 7th 2009


5208 Comments


not important apparently

joshuatree
Emeritus
February 7th 2009


3741 Comments


sure

joshuatree
Emeritus
February 7th 2009


3741 Comments


then it's working

gaslightanthem
February 7th 2009


5208 Comments


homo erotica for the people

slan
February 9th 2009


50 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Lost Wisdom > Dawn.

patrickfannon
May 5th 2011


892 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Listening to this now. It is, was, and always will be, a solid 5 for all time. It is a pure classic. And slan, I would say "Lost Wisdom" may come close to "Dawn," but, after listening to both a hundred times or so, "Dawn" has stood tall as the better of the two. It's hard, but "Lost Wisdom"simply lacks that magical, ethereal quality that "Dawn" exudes in abundance. Still, "Lost Wisdom" benefits from the intimacy and brief recording period under which it was produced. Either way, why is Phil Elverum not more popular on this website? He's easily one of the best singer/songwriters in thw world, by leaps and bounds.

ShadowRemains
February 17th 2012


24985 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you're gone, you're gone, you're gone, you're gone, you're gone, you're gone...

juiceviaorange
February 3rd 2013


699 Comments


getting this soon, Mount Eerie rules my face



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