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.