With the opening notes pulling a distinct power move by featuring just stripped-down vocals, I was thinking this would be a capella upon my first listen – but I was immediately transported somewhere new once the bright piano chords blended with the warmth of Emily Goldsteins’s half-sung, half-spoken raw vocals. Later, she is joined by John Faraone on drums and Anthony Savino on guitar. Reminiscent of Broadway and Sara Bareilles, Mountainess is a force of theatrical whimsy and undeniable confidence set into a high-velocity locomotive sound wave.
Recorded at Big Nice Studio, and with a video designed by fellow Rhode Island native Hope Anderson, this song is a breath of fresh air during a time when everyone is undeniably feeling stifled, frustrated and fed up with the state of the world.
The opening is a lovely mix of bright Disney-inspired goodness, and I absolutely love how this song ebbs and flows, with dramatic buildups and dynamic musical developments. First it’s just raw vocals, and then a piano and a haunting horn section join her. It feels like a heroine stomping across a stage going to battle (or perhaps, waging a war within her own mind). Tribal drums mix with bright harmonies in the chorus, and then a guitar arpeggio rhythmically joins the mix. Her vocal layering is ethereal, and is an undeniably complementary companion to the overall piece.
“But shade is not the killer of dreams / there is life between the vision and me / spots of sun caught beneath my lashes / still I’d be lying if I didn’t concede / how good it feels when you’re here with me” is just a brief example of the articulate and imaginative lyrics present in this song. Most songs have at least some semblance of poetry in them, but I’d wager this one is jam-packed with much more than most. These words encourage listeners to be real and honest with themselves without hesitation, even embracing the things about them that may seem too loud for society to handle. Whether that is in a relationship, or maybe just within oneself, these lyrics carry an important lesson within their delicate melodies and creative musicality.
My favorite lyrics might be “and for every guy who thought I’d die / without his bland suggestion / to be less or more or something for his dubious affection” is such a mic-drop moment. Attacking mansplainers everywhere, it’s equal parts cheeky and pithy, with a great musical build behind it to drive home the point.
On her official website (mountainessmusic.com), Emily describes herself as “a confessional poet, a peeling bell [sic], a rain cloud, a haunted house — no matter what you hear, Mountainess holds her ground and rarely says sorry.” Those words ring so true in this cinematic journey through finding yourself and not letting anyone or anything hold you back. I can feel her pain and her reality bleeding through these words and every chord in this power-ballad. Like bright sun after a downpour, “Attention” is a song that breaks through difficulties and setbacks with ease. I would heartily recommend this song and the calming aesthetics of the video. I did wonder a bit about the artistic choice to include the cheeky little topless fairies poking in and out of the greenery, but they do certainly add to the overall ethereal whimsy of the song even if their thematic significance wasn’t immediately clear to me. The video is an overall colorful and lovely calm green-scape of berries and clovers deep in a forest – a very satisfying and apropos setting for such a lovely song to take the stage.
Listen to and watch the lyric video for “Attention” here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=S0ApqoyKFU8; for information about the artist, go to mountainessmusic.com