Opening song “Hold Your Breath” is also an apt command for the listener. “Glory Hope Mountain” positively rumbles with tension and release as jangly guitars often give way to thundering rhythms. The 12-track set is a narrative about songwriter and vocalist Rolf Klausener’s mother Gloria Esperanza Montoya, who immigrated from Honduras to the Acorn’s native Canada, surviving an abusive home. The lyrics poetically interpret her journey.
The initial beauty of “Breath” gives way to the fireworks of “Flood Pt. 1,” an organic trip complete with hand claps, wood blocks and chanting. “Even While You’re Sleeping,” an otherworldly response to “Flood” features a floating vocal melody line dancing over acoustics and vibraphone.
The strolling pace turns into a trot on “Crooked Legs,” with Klausener delivering lines like “washing the blood that has covered and stained me / oh to be fooled by the wool that has covered me / oh to be lead by the light of a melody” in his husky, quivering voice. The Latin groove and bowed bass of “Glory” leads into the similarly meditative “Oh Napoleon,” which boasts shimmering mandolin and a standout vocal performance.
Thunderstorms return on “Low Gravity,” a breathtaking collaboration between the group’s other members — Jeff Dubutte, Keiko Devaux, T. Jeffrey Maleki, Howie Tsui and Shaun Weadick. Montoya’s voice, an interview recorded by Klausener, is the only one heard on the largely instrumental “Sister Margaret.” “Antenna,” which lacks a cohesive melody line, feels like the only throw-away. But the album recovers toward the end, with “Plateau Ramble,” “Flood Pt. 2” and the closer “Lullaby (Mountain).”
The second “Flood” is a washy (no pun intended) slow number, with peaceful harmonies dominating the gorgeous landscape and female vocals that mirror Klauseners’s idiosyncrasies and bring this holistic album to a satisfying conclusion. — Katie Hasty