song premiere: "Quartz in the Valley" - H.C. McEntire

song premiere: "Quartz in the Valley" - H.C. McEntire
photos: Heather Evans Smith

photos: Heather Evans Smith

"Quartz in the Valley" signals a transformation. The song started as a numbered voice memo on H.C. McEntire's phone but with the production aid of Kathleen Hanna, it was pushed to something else entirely; a striking, guitar-driven single that anchors McEntire's upcoming album LIONHEART out 1/26 through Merge Records.

McEntire's vocals radiate with unmistakable strength; a constant guiding force that tempers through a country-music tale of mascara-stained pillowcases and a waiting creek that holds all the answers. McEntire captures a portrait of emotion, her vocals soaring to new heights with each passing second, stirring and directing every beat of your heart. Backed by unbridled, honeyed strings, sugary keys, and brushes of percussion, "Quartz in the Valley" hinges on an unmistakable feeling of freedom. It sweeps you off your feet and transports you to a place of sincerity and strength that McEntire has created. It's an invitation to close your eyes and imagine; imagine slipping on your boots, and following McEntire down the path you've always been searching for. Here's what the singer had to say on the song:

“Quartz in the Valley” was the first song Kathleen Hanna and I worked on together. I had given her a handful of rough demos, and this is the one she homed in on first. Back then—fall/winter of 2016—it was just a voice memo on my phone arbitrarily titled “#47” because that’s where it fell in order. It was barely anything, with nonsensical mumblings of melody and out-of-tune guitar, but she saw the bones. She said, “Ok, here we go. Work on this. Listen to Wanda Jackson. Get inspired.”

So that’s where I started. And she was right. Since then, I feel like that song has always anchored LIONHEART—chronologically, but also symbolically and spiritually. When Kathleen and I began collaborating, I was personally in a dark place, a lost place, and this song was how I started digging out. I don’t want to give too much away, to define the narrative exclusively; but I will say it began in a very raw, scrupulous way.

One day, I got out of bed at dawn, pulled on my overalls, and walked down to the river. I dug white quartz from the river banks, wheeled them up the hill, barrow after barrow, in a fever. The earth was giving me quartz for free, and I just had to find them. They had been waiting for me, all those years, to pry them out and set them free.

LIONHEART is out 1/26 through Merge Records. Pre-order here. The album comes bundled with a special screenprinted handkerchief created by McEntire, who will donate all profits from its sales to Southerners On New Ground