There is such a great amount of music out there in the world, and most of it, not all of it, but I’d wager the majority of that music is about busted relationships et al. Now I’m generalizing by this term but you catch my drift if you’ve ever heard a song before. Like almost any song. Ever. I say this because it was nice to hear that the Sonoma County California folk rock trio Terrain made their latest album High Sierra after an inspiring journey through the John Muir Trail, which begins in Yosemite National Park and then after about two hundred plus miles ends on the highest peak in continental United States, Mount Whitney. And just in case you weren’t aware that’s 14,505 ft. above sea level.
The music on High Sierra is at times upbeat and happy and at other times slow and mystic. But it is always, always, always, true to the environment from which it was born from. Take the opening track “Reverie” which opens with a finger-picked acoustic guitar that feels like warm splashes of the first morning light coming up on a new day after a long night of darkness.
This gives way to the song “Sunrise” a poppy folk tune with woodwinds and snappy beats that fuse with airy vocal harmonies. It’s happy and powerful at the same time and sounds like a throwback to the summer of love era bands that just wanted peace, love and harmony. Then comes the slightly psychedelic and melodic rocker “Cathedral.”
This psychedelic and melodic flow mixed with a very spiritual feeling folk sentiment pervades many of the songs on High Sierra like “San Joaquin” which has a native American intonation to it and really gives one the feel that the song was born from the land itself.
I got this feeling on the bongo-beats of “Secrets the Mountains Keep” which had that sort of natural spirituality that Cat Stevens was so good at intertwining into his brand of folk-pop. Then the band switches gears to go to a more Allman Brothers meets Jethro Tull in the woods kind of a thing. It’s pretty awesome. They also manage to hit on a bit of old classic rock on “As Far as I can See.”
High Sierra is an expansive album that uses nature as its inspiration. Terrain does such a great job of capturing the expansive beauty of an America that a lot of Americans don’t really know is there. But even if you’ve been stuck on the east coast or the midwest all your life, High Sierra will allow you to hear what all that wild and open terrain looks like.
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