H.C. McEntire Breaks Down Kathleen Hanna’s Influence On One Of The Songs Off Her Solo Debut

Editorial Director, Music

We partnered with H.C. McEntire to announce her debut solo album, LIONHEART late last year, and in the lengthy interview she talked about working with Kathleen Hanna as a guiding mentor on the record.

As the frontwoman of Mount Moriah, and plenty of other bands and projects before that, McEntire is a veteran musician, but she still deeply benefitted from the support and encouragement of Hanna — more proof of how desperately female mentorship is needed in the music industry. The album itself is McEntire’s effort to reconcile her identity as a queer southern woman with the heritage of country music, it’s a progressive and poignant record that is entirely unmissable, an antidote for an era marked by bigotry and hate.

Today, McEntire follows up her leadoff single, “A Lamb, A Dove,” with “Quartz In The Valley” via the MP3 blog Grey Estates. It’s a song that she says began to feel like the spiritual anchor of her new record.

The lyrics trace the gorgeous unfolding of a relationship mirrored in the country where it was born, but my favorite line on the track has always been the casual tenderness of “hair up high in a messy stack.” It’s the kind of detail and imagery that feels like only a woman would notice and describe, and I immediately know what it looks like when she sings it — every woman I know has thrown her hair up like that at some point — but I don’t think I’ve heard it set down in a song before.

Here are McEntire’s thoughts on the writing of the song:

“Back then — fall/winter of 2016 — “Quartz In The Valley” was just a voice memo on my phone arbitrarily titled “#47” because that’s where it fell in order. It was barely anything, with nonsensical mumblings of melody and out-of-tune guitar, but Kathleen saw the bones. She said, ‘Ok, here we go. Work on this. Listen to Wanda Jackson. Get inspired.’ So that’s where I started. And she was right. Since then, I feel like that song has always anchored LIONHEART — chronologically, but also symbolically and spiritually. When Kathleen and I began collaborating, I was personally in a dark place, a lost place, and this song was how I started digging out. I don’t want to give too much away, to define the narrative exclusively; but I will say it began in a very raw, scrupulous way: with a shovel, and a barrow, and an inkling to excavate.”

McEntire is embarking on a mini-tour to kick off the year, check out the dates below:

01/25 — Atlanta GA @ City Winery*
01/26 — Nashville, TN @ City Winery*
01/28 — Annapolis, MD @ Ram’s Head Onstage*
01/29 — New York, NY @ City Winery*
01/30 — New York, NY @ City Winery*
01/31 — Boston, MA @ City Winery*
02/02 — Chicago, IL @ City Winery*
02/03 — Chicago, IL @ City Winery*
02/08 — Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight
02/09 — Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
02/10 — Durham, NC @ The Pinhook

* w/ Justin Townes Earle

LIONHEART is out 1/26 via Merge Records. Get it here.

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