Purple Mountains is the new nom-de-rock of David Berman, formerly of Silver Jews (whose classic run was made somehow finite in 2009, when the voice himself, David Berman, announced his retirement from music). ‘Purple Mountains’ is also the name of what will be known as one of his greatest albums – full of double-jointed wit and wisdom, up to the neck in his special recipe of handcrafted country-rock joys and sorrows that sing legendary in cracked and broken hearts. The songs are produced impeccably by Woods’ Jarvis Taveniere and Jeremy Earle, buffed up like a hardwood floor ready to be well-trod upon for an evening of romance and dance.
The songs of Purple Mountains are a potent brew, stitched together from lifetimes, knitting the drift of the years with the tightest lyric construction Berman’s ever attempted. Honesty is archly in the air but lines of incredible bleakness somehow give way to playful distraction and the hiding of surprises for close listeners. Even still, as the songwriter once wrote, “every single thought is like a punch in the face.” It won’t take long after slapping the record on the platter for you to hear that this is one of those albums. There are breakup records. There are apocalypse records. Then there’s ‘Purple Mountains’.
Berman’s songwriter’s bone’s never been laid more bare – if redemption doesn’t come on the lyric sheet, the act of putting these songs into singing, dancing form allows them their finest end – to provide infotainment for others, embodying moments of life and truth via music that elevates with disarming warmth and a reassuring commonality, even as David himself stands outside the communal campfires.
1. That’s Just the Way That I Feel
2. All My Happiness Is Gone
3. Darkness and Cold
4. Snow Is Falling In Manhattan
5. Margaritas At the Mall
6. She’s Making Friends, I’m Turning Stranger
7. I Loved Being My Mother’s Son
8. Nights That Won’t Happen
9. Storyline Fever
10. Maybe I’m the Only One For Me