Mountain Heart: Road that Never Ends

On the surface Mountain Heart seems to play slick Nashville grass that’s ripe to please the modern day Opry crowd. But the band’s new live album, Road that Never Ends, reveals a musical depth that should turn heads outside of the lawn chair crowd. Recorded live at the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a venerable acoustic music room, the disc continuously combusts with blazing strings, especially in the instrumental “Devil’s Courthouse,” and the Holy Spirit fire of lead singer Josh Shilling’s soulful, gospel-inspired vocals, best heard in the wayfaring anthem “I’m Just Here to Ride the Train.” But the disc hits a high note when the strings fall to the wayside: first when the group offers an a cappella reading of the stirring traditional “The Gospel Train,” and next when Shilling jumps on a piano to deliver a solo version of Greg Allman’s “Whipping Post.” There’s no doubt these boys can pick, but thankfully they aren’t occasionally afraid to walk the line.
—Jedd Ferris