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Country : United States Label : Merge Genres and styles : Americana / Country / Folk Year : 2020
H.C. McEntire

Eno Axis

· by Steve Naud

Two years ago, your faithful scribe swooned before Lionheart, the first solo album by H.C. McEntire, singer of the groups Bellafea and Mount Moriah. On that record, she’d left behind the muddy rock of these two bands, shifting to a much less dirty country sound, more like the tunes that marked her childhood spent in the North Carolina countryside. Singing about her love for another woman, using this reputedly conservative music as well as the religious imagery imposed on her in her youth, was a tour de force.

Eno Axis derives its title from the Eno River, a North Carolina waterway along which Heather McEntire and her partner took up residence. That’s what this beautiful record is all about: peace in the arms of your loved one, in the quiet beauty of nature. Eno Axis is the logical sequel to Lionheart‘s work, in that after settling accounts with the demons of her past, the singer can now lay down her arms.

Even if a few listens are required to appreciate this album at its true value, the soft light that emanates from it seduces from the very first bars of “Hands for the Harvest”, a superb opening track with an intimate atmosphere. A little later, a cloud passes over, the darkest one here, for the duration of the excellent “River’s Jaw”, then we continue with “One Eye Open”, a gospel-flavoured anthem condemning white supremacism and its senseless violence. As things continue, the richness is revealed in the roots instrumentation (guitar, banjo, pedal steel…), the warmth of the production, and the sound of McEntire’s voice, so touching right to the last track of the record, a pure and very successful rereading of Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy”. With Eno Axis, we finally have the great record that H.C. McEntire’s talent has been promising us since the beginning of her career.

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