Album of the Week: H.C. McEntire, Eno Axis

The river Eno runs through North Carolina, past H.C McEntire’s home, and right through the heart of Eno Axis.

Released by Merge Records on August 21, 2020, Eno Axis is firmly rooted in terra firma that has been worked for generation after generation with the strength of backs and the will to go on with not much more to look forward to beyond sunset and sunrise and the joys and pain that lie in between.

Time, Time is one fire / That shaky wick / That crescent hiss

Eno Axis was perfectly produced by H.C. McEntire, Luke Norton, and Missy Thangs where each element — vocals, guitar, banjo, pedal steel, keys, bass, and drums — are part of the supporting cast for the story being told. And H.C. McEntire’s stories run deep.

From “One Eye Open” whose glance is colored by McEntire’s childhood Sunday School room:

That criss-cross flag is ebbin’ in the wind
And the crosses burn
Till the morning

When asked about the song “Final Bow,” McEntire replied:

This song is about consumption—the commodification of female sexuality, the inescapable struggle to present honest art within a capitalistic structure that applauds vanity and constant accessibility over mental health and self-care. Conceptually, I appreciate how Andrew and Marie considered the fatigue of this, in exposing the expectations of being an entertainer, by psychedelically anchoring the narrative in metaphors for relentlessness and drowning.

There’s plenty of beautiful music-making on Eno Axis, with sweet soaring harmonies, something McEntire knows all too well from her time on the road singing backup with Angel Olsen for her My Woman tour. This is roots music that’s not afraid to look back with a critical eye while being wide-eyed in the present’s passing moments.

McEntire closes out the album with a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Houses of the Holy” which has been transformed by slow simmering southern charm.