The Mountain Goats are back with a new album recorded titled Dark In Here (out 6/25) recorded at FAME Studios, the Muscle Shoals institution that’s captured Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Gregg Allman, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and hundreds more. Frontman John Darnielle announced the record last night (describing it as the “weathered, gnarlier cousin to Getting Into Knives“) before the third installment of the band’s Jordan Lake Sessions concert series and subsequently shared Dark in Here’s gentle-but-ominous lead single, “Mobile.”
“Mobile” features Muscle Shoals players Spooner Oldham (Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt) on electric piano and Will McFarlane (Bonnie Raitt, Tammy Wynette) on lead guitar. Here’s Mountain Goats bassist Peter Hughes on that experience and his interpretation of Darnielle’s lyrics:
The Mountain Goats have been playing together as a band long enough to have developed a degree of musical telepathy, but listening to these two guys responding in real time to us and each other revealed another level of connectedness altogether, one bordering on the supernatural. We ran through most of these songs three times; I’m pretty sure the performance of “Mobile” you’re hearing is a second take.
One of my quarantine projects after getting home was going back to Moby Dick and actually finishing it for once, and I was amused to encounter early on the retelling of the story of Jonah. If Melville gives it to us as a fiery 19th century New Bedford sermon, what “Mobile” offers might be understood as Father Mapple’s modern-day Gulf Coast flip side, the breeziness of McFarlane’s electric guitar and Matt Douglas’ accordion belying its protagonist’s guilty conscience.