By Rachel Cholst, Editor
For those of you familiar with HC McEntire’s music — either her gothic Southern punk with Mount Moriah or her stunning solo debut LIONHEART — you know what to expect from Eno Axis. For everyone else, it’s the perfect album for some seriously nerve-wracking times. A North Carolina native, McEntire uses the album to trace the ebb and flow of her beloved Eno River. McEntire makes a specialty of crafting huge dreamscapes with hypnotic grooves, her ethereal voice, and sweeping lyrics.
McEntire’s made a body of work reckoning with her queer upbringing in the rural South, and Eno Axis continues to explore that theme with her sly cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy,” where she takes on the voice of a shy teenager asking a crush out on a date. Meanwhile, “One Eye Open” wrestles with the legacy of the “criss-cross flag” to devastating effect.
This time around, we see McEntire play a bit with her sound. “Hands For the Harvest,” an ode to the farmers who have lived off the Eno for centuries, carries a distinctly gospel flavor. Meanwhile, “High Rise” is the most country-sounding song McEntire has recorded since Mount Moriah’s self-titled 2012 album. We also see McEntire play with a crunchier Americana sound on “River’s Jaw.”
McEntire is in full command of her craft on Eno Axis, one where she can experiment with new styles, return to old paths, and continue searching for her poetic truth. Overall, Eno Axis is a soft cruise, but one where you should keep an eye out for troubled waters as you float down the stream — because life isn’t just a dream.
“Eno Axis” is available now from Merge Records.