Mountains are where people have always gone for spiritual reflection, to get in touch with the divine, or simply to withdraw a little from the urgency of life, in solitude, to gain the refreshment of nature.
All of that is reflected in Dave Whitcroft’s Holy Mountain album, a set of acoustic guitar instrumentals, which tell stories that will soothe you, revive you and settle your soul.
Whitcroft is an Irish composer and guitarist, who grew up with a view of the Mountains of Mourne (which sweep down to the sea) in Northern Ireland. There’s a rich mix of musical influences in his music, from Irish traditional to a variety of Americana influences from soul to blues to gospel. All of which you can detect peeping through in this hugely enjoyable set of songs.
Whitcroft has used two Lowden guitars on the album – a vintage mahogany and spruce Lowden O12 which gives him a big sound on a number of the tracks, and a walnut and cedar F23c Fanfret model for a a more precise, treble sound on tracks like Jerusalem, Laughing and Crying and Still Only One Way. (If you’re a guitarist and for some reason, don’t know Lowden guitars, put that right straightaway by heading to Lowden’s website. Anyone who has heard a Lowden live or has played one will tell you, they are the best in the world.)
The album has nine songs, with a nice amount of variety. It kicks off with the open-tuned Kathmandu, with its evocatively chiming chords, giving way to Old Pictures Don’t Lie, which will conjure up and melodically resonate with your own memories.
One surprise in the middle of the album was the tune of the old children’s hymn, Jesus Loves Me, in He Is Strong, which evoked its own set of emotional memories in me, of people and times gone by. And Whitcroft offers us another hymn at the end of the album – an open-tuned, bluesy version of Amazing Grace, which takes you to an open porch on a balmy evening somewhere in the American South.
There are no acoustic guitar pyrotechnics on this album, no slapping and tapping – just gorgeous, atmospheric melodies designed to calm your spirit. Listen to Still Only One Way and Jerusalem and feel the cares of the day slip away.
Dave Whitcroft says that “Truth and beauty, love, sadness, and faith are all still dead-centre for my song and music-writing. I’m not interested in blowing people away with fantastic technique or clever ideas just for the sake of it. It really is my priority to touch people’s hearts with a beautiful melody, a powerful lyric, or a distinctive discord.” And that’s exactly what you’ll find in Holy Mountain.