Cincinnati, Ohio-based folk/Americana/country band formed and fronted by singer-songwriter Mark Utley. The stylistic starting point for this project is Appalachian folk music: where it came from (Celtic and British folk), what it originally became (old-time string bands, early country and folk), and the genres it spawned (bluegrass, country and western, americana, alt.country). Drawing from the deep well of American music, Magnolia Mountain takes these different genres, finds the common thread within, and translates them into their own original songs that both pay tribute to the past and carve out their own place in today's musical landscape.
Magnolia Mountain is known for their warm, accessible songs, stellar musicianship, and trademark 2-and-3 part close harmony vocals.
Magnolia Mountain was a 2008 Cincinnati Entertainment Award (CEA) nominee in the category of "Folk/Americana".
Reviewed by Mike Breen in CityBeat, 02/18/09:
Though known for a wide-range of musical styles, Greater Cincinnati has always had an especially strong Americana/ Roots music scene, as evidenced each year by the stacked lineup at the annual Rivertown Breakdown showcase. With the release of Nothing As It Was, Mark Utley and his band Magnolia Mountain should instantly jump to the top of any list of Cincinnati’s best Roots practitioners.
Nothing As It Was — to be released in conjunction with a MM show Saturday at the Southgate House with guests The Tillers and Kim Taylor — is soulful, haunting and pure, taking the best of Country, Folk and Bluegrass and refracting it through a modern prism. It rings incredibly authentic and timeless, an album that could have come out 40, 30 or 20 years ago but is too lively and crafty to stand as some sort of retro-music museum piece.
The “Roots” being spread around on Nothing are widereaching — “Irish Maggie” strides and jigs like a vintage Celtic Folk song, while the highlight, “Out of My Mind,” has the sad, earnest feel of a great George Jones love lament.
Most startling and appealing is when Utley and Co. create something that transcends any genre. “Murder on My Soul,” while perhaps designed with “murder ballad” intent, is a hovering, spooky slice of ethereal soul-searching that recalls the ghostly Indie Folk of artists like Midlake and Fleet Foxes.
Nothing As It Was announces Mark Utley as one of the finest songwriters in the area. He and the amazing band he’s assembled have a knack for crafting something that is both traditional and refreshing. Fans of Roots music old and new will find Magnolia Mountain’s latest one of the more enchanting albums they’ll hear all year.