Mountains & Valleys

by Mountains & Valleys

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Joel Hinojosa
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Joel Hinojosa I find this record to be beautiful and dense the whole way through, full of complex and pleasing arrangements, and melancholic yet playful lyrics. Some highlights are the lush violins on 'squint' the roaring crescendos on 'the worst half' and the catchy melodies on 'bold' and 'three drinks'. This album has no shortage of interesting turns and sonic treats. This is definitely a complete work so put some time aside to listen it from start to finish. Favorite track: the worst half.
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about

“Three Drinks” will certainly pique the interest of listeners with a soft spot for achey, melancholic tunes. Introduced as gentle and muted, “Three Drinks” is pleasantly surprising. The track creeps into a sentimental cry only to be topped with an emotionally contradicting chorus that echoes, “My silence is torture and bliss.” The seductive and sultry voice of Merritt Harris adds an additional layer of soul, making “Three Drinks” all the more pained and heartfelt. Without a doubt, Harris will leave listeners ruminating on his lyrical pangs of grief."
-The Wild Honey Pie

"Mountains and Valleys, as a whole, is undoubtedly an impressive effort. None of the album’s twelve tracks come off as filler, each track fitting nicely in the record’s dynamic range. The instrumentation is diverse and well-arranged, making the self-titled collection of indie-folk songs a thoroughly enjoyable listen."
-Ronald Walczyk at Buffablog

"Lots of smart and tasteful textures, lyrics, and instrumentation."
-Jocko at MoreSound Studio

"[The melancholy vibe] is part of the reason why I love this album as much as I do! It expresses a truism about the human soul . . . There is a prevalent sense of hopefulness in your lyrics though- and that is what keeps it so creative."
-Alanna Marie Boudreau

This album is a journey of struggle and joy. You'll hear the tension of figuring out what it means to be human.

This album features the lush instrumentation of my previous work with the added dimension of full band/full production. I spent over a year writing, recording, finding collaborators and mixing this album. It will make your ears happy.

Thanks to many generous donors during my fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo, I am able to master and duplicate a limited run of CDs.

Thanks for listening!

credits

released March 21, 2015

All song written/ recorded/ produced in various homes by Merritt Harris with collaboration on:

Bold: recorded and mixed with John Carter at New Vine Media, Ithaca NY.
Empire, The Worst Half, Seed: drums and rhythm electric guitar tracked by Langston Masingale at StudioDog Productions, Syracuse NY.
Lead vocals on Stubborn Seed, Squint, Grave or Kite, Reminder and Winter Coat tracked at StudioDog Productions.
Stubborn Seed, Squint & Reminder: Violins arranged & recorded by Rachel Leigh.
Stubborn Seed, The Worst Half, Three Drinks, Grave or Kite, Winter Coat and Salt City: Horns arranged and recorded by Steven Carbone.
Empire, Seed: Horns arranged by Steven Carbone.

Mastered by Jocko Randall at More Sound Recording Studio, Syracuse NY.

Instruments not included in track credits were written & performed by Merritt Harris.

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about

Mountains & Valleys Syracuse, New York

Mountains & Valleys makes music that your ears will love. It's raw and real yet could still be the soundtrack for a lucid dream. We are not interested in sounding like anything other than honesty.

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Track Name: stubborn seed
again there is a bridge we will not cross

our stubborn seed came quietly
like a message o'er tin cans and string
giggles and toes tying the notes
that make up you plus me
I don't think it's called harmony
it's between that an cacophony

again there is a bridge we will not cross

so will you kiss me with your soft pink lips
when you say 'sorry' with your body
even though your eyes want to say goodbye

let's lay out in the soft blue grass
with our arms up and our guards down
to cradle our divided heads
and watch the rain green sky

we're heavier than the earth for days
stooping beneath the clouds I say

"again there is a cross we will not bridge"
Track Name: squint
more than a honeysuckle
you're an orange carot on a blue string

I try and squint in the city
to see only trees and grass green

but you hide like a five hour
plane ride, swallowed
in a white cloud
still I tilt my head back
to hear the clouds humming

bay leaves help me remember
when i'm a sad thought of numb sensors

Its every pedal, every pedal
its every sweet nibble I try and savor
Slow, tempting timing
to tease my shrunken tasters

If this is grafted
then where is the trunk
if you are the true vine
then where is the bunch
they say that there is life
when my viens run dry
we're asking is there life
while we're alive

Its the hem of a robe
to be called fearless
i'm a hand from you
touchless
Track Name: bold
I can't say it wasn't bold
to knock, ring then knock
to get your attention
even though I should not

I'm begging to fill my gut
with no more than a fist
when crack went my rib cage
she flew away with it

come back shy song bird
come back shy song bird
come back shy song bird
come back

I've sinned, i've missed the mark
if it was you (and it was)
don't write this down in ink
in your big book please

I'm begging to fill my cup
with saw dust and to grow some luck
I'm sighing to fill my lungs
with twenty one grams of love
Track Name: empire
don't you find it time
to settle in your mind
and float along
the winding coils
that are padded in bile

thanks be to the One
who made straight paths
that are defined
by what they lack

oh, I am the water at its lowest point
companionship and loyalty
to gravity
I'm searching for a spark
to start our fire
but following the fuel
of my empire

you're asking for the sky
I'm asking for a sign
seed is in my arms
and that's where we collide

thanks be to the One who knew
that acorns fall and die
to grow the tree that made the bridge
that fell 'tween you and I

oh, I am the water at it's lowest point
companionship and loyalty
to gravity
I'm searching for a spark
to start our fire
but following the fuel
of my empire
you are the steam and once like me
you slip right through the grasp
of those who reach
well tell me my love
what is he like
the man at God's right side
Track Name: the worst half
seed wakes all night in sweat
better than regret
you'd probably feel
light & free
but you're with me

now, we were not blooming
but out came this seedling
who bound you like a sailor's knot
tied to my docks

ooh, I anchor you
but not to the ground
to a deeper dark
where I pull you down
you see creatures & critters
swimming all around
you see ugly things
bound up in me

past times I count as lost times
they got the best of me
well, since you got the worst half
we might as well agree:

I'm not the man you dreamed
and in the clouds it seems
so much lighter and serene
till we become nothing

ooh, I anchor you
but not to the ground
to a deeper dark
where I pull you down
you see creatures & critters
swimming all around
you see ugly things
bound up in me
Track Name: seed
seed one day
you'll be like me
seed, you'll be twice as tall
with twice my heart
and my cork screw spine

seed with my very hands
I will burrow you deep
into the richest soil I find
by the riverside

seed i'll sow you
seed i'll show you
seed i'll grow you
the best I can

seed one day
you will not understand
why I prune
you'll will hate the gardner
and you will curse the father

seed one day
i'll teach you
to peal back your bark
with those around you
so they can see the real you

seed i'll sow you
seed i'll show you
seed i'll grow you
the best I can
Track Name: three drinks
everyone knows the wages of sin
everyone knows the places i've been
it doesn't take two to lose you I see
i'm always much farther than I used to be

I've got a head full of steam
three drinks to soften the scene
and you've had every right to this
my silence is torture & bliss
my silence is torture & bliss

I thought you were the big bad wolf
I thought I'd fall into the black hole
sideways glances & crooked chances
I'm sure the nameless love word dances

I've got a head full of steam
three drinks to soften the scene
and you've had every right to this
my silence is torture & bliss
my silence is torture & bliss

honesty
it will tear you apart
honestly
lets go back to the start
back to the
back to the
back to the start

but I've got a head full of steam
three drinks to soften the scene
and you've had every right to this
my silence is torture & bliss
my silence is torture & bliss
Track Name: grave or kite
manic
isn't it all within my reach
within my reach
panic
i'm on the edge of everything
of everything

curse this bad eyes
peeling like scales
and this cork screw spine
twisting like the vine

curse these foul hands
that take from the king
and this flat foot folly
that goes with the breeze

manic
isn't it all within my reach
within my reach
panic
i'm on the edge of everything
of everything

I do what I can
its cold then it burns
these mountains & valleys
are cause for concern

promise that you'll dig
when I lay in the land
or a kite tossed in the wind
my string is in your hands

manic
isn't it all within my reach
within my reach
panic
i'm on the edge of everything
of everything

I'm up in the clouds floating
kissing the sun
or i'm down in my grave digging
looking for someone

manic
isn't it all within my reach
within my reach
panic
i'm on the edge of everything
of everything
Track Name: reminder
provider, not peace-of-mind-er
you hang, kite
looking down your nose at those
tiptoeing and pickpocketing life

son of a clean bride
split from open skies blind
to twenty one one

wont you come if even in metaphor
and cast the pharisees out of me
wanting signs

you with your sugar brown eyes
and pre assembled earth time
figure this jigsaw, pigsty life
I tried

reminder, from your landlord
we all equal lesser
the clean and the poor dressers
the yes-ers and the no-ers
those bloated with the answers
see you
stuck up in a cloud

wont you come if even in metaphor
and cast American out of me
wanting kings

you with your sugar brown eyes
and pre assembled earth time
figure this jigsaw, pigsty life
I tried
you with your magazine smile
and preassembled earth while
figure this jigsaw, pigsty life
I tried

christ, we're all overfed
filled with showbread and manna
christ, we're all overfed
filled with 'holy words' and manners
Track Name: winter coat
a winter coat
to hold me together
up in New York
we dress for the weather
I'm wrapped in goose feathers
I'm hidden and safe
I'd rather not leave
this shell that I've made

but don't leave me alone
don't leave me with strangers
you know that I'll pull towards
permanent dangers

I love a good secret
let it sit in the cellar
let it age and excite me
eighty proof all the better
my hand in the wolf's fur
my head had no clue
my heart is an island
eyes hazy and blue

I'm useless and smiling
I really should go
you found what I'm hiding
I'm reckless you know
I'm reckless
Track Name: salt city
deep in salt city
it isn't pretty
I hear fireworks
no, gunshots
on the corner
down the street

they say you don't gotta worry
it's only gang related
you can feel safe in your home
you can feel separated

the revolution will not be televised

deep in salt city
we've got irony
we've got guns for that
to push the violence back

they say you don't gotta worry
it's only drug related
you can feel safe in your home
you can feel isolated

the revolution will not be televised

this mass appeal american dream
poured in the water upstream
I'll wait for the year of jubilee
till then hold on to me
till then hold on to me
till then hold on

the revolution will not be televised

deep in salt city
there is no green to be seen
the dollar bill king is dehumanized
he's seductive and sterilized

I say come together
we're all love related
you can feel safe in my home
you can know all but hatred

the revolution will not be televised
Track Name: used to be a sinner
I used to be a sinner
now and unhonest dinner
and card wont make up for untruth
I cook you up a pot
of undeserved anger
garnished with a touch of danger
lets not get too close
close as we spoke
close as eve and adam

I'm an embarrassment
I'm an unhusbandry
I'm as bad as you are
good to me
strugglers feel noble
sinners feel dirty
liars feel nothing
and thats why I'm singing