Little Mountain

///Press/Reviews

LITTLE MOUNTAIN PRESS ASSOCIATION ALBUM REVIEW

Little Mountain's debut album is an absolute delight, with strong

songwriting and catchy songs making for a thoroughly engaging listen.

The south London collective, comprising of Ste Forshaw, Amanda Zamolo,

who has performed with Morcheeba, and Ross Godfrey, have opted for a

rustic, folk-tinged sound on their self-titled debut. But the band have

enough pop nous and ability to write catchy choruses for the songs to

lodge quickly in your mind, ensuring listeners will be humming along in

no time at all. In fact, with songs as impressive as Giving It Up,

Tangled Lines and Sound Mirror, Little Mountain are likely to be scaling

the heights sooner rather than later.

 Rating: 8/10

We got some glowing album reviews in this month's press.
Q Magazine 4/5 * "Little Mountain is a clever and surprising album"
Uncut Magazine 8/10 * "Full of laid-back charm"
Ross also has a 5 page feature in this months Guitar and Bass Magazine.

Little Mountain is the creation of Ross Godfrey, a member of trip hoppers, Morcheeba. With his partner, Amanda Zamolo, Godfrey had become a bit of a California Dreamer when, spending time in Santa Cruz, he began to write a song that for him captured some of the golden era of Laurel Canyon on the cusp of the sixties and seventies. The song, Catch Me was recorded by the pair with assistance from Will Sprott of The Mumlers and Dan Joeright (Drummer for Jim White and David Byrne) before Godfrey and Zamolo returned to the UK. Back home they cast about for a third member and a serendipitous moment occurred when they chanced upon a busker on London’s Southbank. Impressed, they invited Ste Forshaw to sit in with them resulting in him becoming the third leg of the tripod that is Little Mountain.
Forshaw adds an earthy tone to Godfrey’s LA haze, a yin to his yan perhaps and together the trio have crafted an album that ripples with sunshine melodies and harmonies allied to a strong beating heart rooted in a more Anglicised folk idiom. Godfrey embellishes the album with a plethora of instruments (vintage guitars , early synthesisers and Hammond Organs, bass, lap steel and drums) offering a texture that is warm and enveloping, at times recalling Steven Stills’ bluesy organic style as on the organ driven Hide Me From The Darkness. Elsewhere his experience with Morcheeba is utilised as he wraps Zamolo’s voice in a warm electronica fuzziness that’s not a million miles removed from early Beth Orton on What We Gonna Do. While Forshaw comes across more as a ploughboy than a cowboy on the folky Even More and the short instrumental Sound Mirror is like Pentangle meeting Portishead the meat here is in the swampy sludge of You Never Know and the keening harmonies of the opening song, Giving it Up. Altogether a fine listen. Link...Little Mountain. | Blabber 'n' Smoke

A clever modern take on Folk-Rock....Tracks from this album have haunted my MP3 player over the last couple of weeks; seemingly turning up every time I press random. This could have been irritating and annoying if they hadn’t been so blooming good and fresh. While Little Mountain have musicians listed on the album sleeve; everything revolves around singer Amanda Zamola, Steve Forshaw (vocals & guitar) and band founder Ross Godfrey who was once in a band called Morcheeba who skirted around the Trip-Hop scene of the 1990’s. Opening track Giving It Up is a nice taster for what follows as it features Zamola and Forshaw harmonizing over a modern folk-rock sound; which with hindsight may (or may not) be influenced by Godfrey’s Trip-Hop background; even though the guitar break in the middle is pure West Coast. While I definitely like the album as a whole; when Amanda Zamola takes the lead the songs leap to another level; as she has something of an ethereal voice, akin to a young Stevie Nicks. What We Gonna Do and Tractor Beam especially showcase her talents and have me desperately hoping for more of the same. I’m certainly not averse to Forshaw’s voice; far from it, as on the poetically wordy Even More and the album closer Almighty Love his slight rasp and expressive voice conjures up memories of some of my favourite singer-songwriters of the 70’s and 80’s. For a debut album it’s a lot better than I’d have expected, with several songs already earmarked for my Holiday Mix-tape (for my I-phone). Link....

Little Mountain debut album | The Rocking Magpie

A band with a story behind them almost as heart-warming as the gentle folk-rock they create, Little Mountain are a true joy to see live. Having met whilst recording the Dive Deep Morcheeba album, Ross Godfrey and Amanda Zamolo originally started writing songs together out in sunny California. Coming to London to pursue both a band, and a family, together, the pair happened upon the perfect male lead for the Little Mountain project. Godfrey and Zamolo fell for Ste Forshaw’s distinctive voice and guitar playing when they came across him busking; Ross interrupted the police who were moving him on, and immediately proposed a jam. The rest is history.

Following the dulcet tones and skilled slide-guitar of Bradley Burgess, and indie-rockers The President Lincoln, Little Mountain open with ‘Even More’ – perhaps my favourite song of the night. As Forshaw’s subtly powerful, deeply emotive, husky vocals flow alongside the delicate harmonies of Zamolo, I’m immediately cast under Little Mountain’s spell. A truly heart-rending start to the set that leaves me utterly captivated.

I find it hard to believe that this is the band’s “first gig with a rhythm section”, as each member of Little Mountain seems to fit perfectly. With their skilled musicianship and endearing onstage chemistry, this collective create wonderful slices of folk-rock capable of charming even the most cynical of listeners.

From songs about “falling in love with aliens’ to sunbathing, Little Mountain ooze hypnotic, dreamy vibes that could easily transport you to the California sunshine where the band first formed. As Forshaw and Zamolo swap between leading songs and flawlessly harmonising, their contrasting vocals fit perfectly with one another, as they flow seamlessly alongside Godfrey’s intricate steel-string riffs. Fusing together traditional folk influences (“Any fans of Pentangle out there?!”) with chilled out, effervescent melodies, the result is something quite enchanting. It may not be “raucous’, but it’s incredibly emotionally powerful.

As Little Mountain close the set without their newly added rhythm section, ‘Almighty Love’ brings the night to an exquisite end. Utterly beautiful in its simplicity, Little Mountain have clearly mastered the art of creating uplifting songs that will leave you both moved to tears, yet filled with a reassuring sense of hope.

Little Mountain’s eponymous album is out now, and it’s pretty lovely, but you really should catch this band live to capture their true magic.

28th February – The Montague Arms, London

The press blurb informs us that the debut album from London based trio Little Mountain is a set of "beautifully crafted songs…paying homage to the sunny, cosmic sound of the golden era of folk/rock, deep in the hills of Laurel Canyon." That’s some claim to live up to. The fact is that statement, as bold as it may seem, does sum up the music spread across these ten original songs perfectly, but it’s only part of the story.

For although checking the credits a few times to make sure that Jonathan Wilson hasn’t been involved somewhere along the way is another indication of how well this trio have captured the sound they were aiming for. The band have, without a doubt, added more than a dash of their own individuality and vision to that classic Cali-rock vibe. 

The band was formed by Ross Godfrey who will be known to many for his ongoing work with the band Morcheeba. Here Godfrey has teamed up with his partner, Parisian Amanda Zamolo, and Steven Forshaw, originally from Stockport. Multi-instrumentalist Godfrey plays guitar, lap steel, bass, keyboards and drums, while Forshaw provides acoustic guitar and all three band members contribute vocally. The only ‘outside’ help comes in the form of the Mumlers' Will Sprott who plays guitar and lends his vocals to the song he co-wrote with Godfrey ‘Catch Me’, and Dan Joeright (Jim White, David Byrne) who fills the drum seat on the same song. The album was recorded at Hillside Studios in London and produced, engineered and mixed by Godfrey. 

From the off ‘Little Mountain’ sounds at once familiar yet totally contemporary. Mixing in not just elements but Titanic-sized segments of that classic Californian folk rock while retaining a band’s own uniqueness is, of course, nothing new but Godfrey and pals actually take this music to places few other artists could even dream of. 

It feels as if some artists are born to be part of the same band eventually. Without wishing to take anything away from the deserved success and acclaim that Ross Godfrey has already garnered from his work with Morcheeba, the music he is making with Forshaw and Zamolo sounds so natural. The whole atmosphere created by the ten songs on offer here is so warm and organic in some ways it feels like Godfrey has found his natural musical home with these musicians. 

But it’s not all Godfrey’s show. Amanda Zamolo takes the lead vocals on three tracks; her distinctive, almost fragile at times, vocals lend extra texture and shade to the songs where the lead is given over to her. The aforementioned ‘Catch Me’ is one of the songs on which Zamolo sings lead and was the first song to be recorded for this project. It’s not easy to place Zamolo’s vocals, or to give many comparisons. It is simply a thing of beauty that draws the listener into the song and holds them there. It’s a lazy summer afternoon song; the dreamlike quality of Zamolo’s vocals suits the laid-back feeling of the song perfectly. 

‘What We Gonna Do’ marries Zamolo’s delicate vocals, still rooted in that classic folk/rock sound of the 1970s, to a musical backing that is totally contemporary. It shows a more experimental side to Little Mountain and is proof that there is more to this trio than simply recycling sounds of the past. ‘Tractor Beam’, the third song to feature Zamolo as lead vocalist, has an otherworldly feel to it but this time those haunting vocals are vying for your attention against some searing guitar from Godfrey. Not the first time while listening to ‘Little Mountain’ does Neil Young’s name suddenly enter your mind. Try ‘You Never Know’ for another slice of Crazy Horse-inspired heaven. 

And then there are the tracks where Forshaw takes lead. ‘Almighty Love’ which closes the album and which is one of two solo compositions by Forshaw opens gently with Forshaw’s acoustic guitar and aching vocals - “If winter comes and you ask me to leave/I don’t know if I’ll be able to breath/Every time I see you in a daydream/The leaves have all fallen from the trees.” It’s a heartbreaking vocal performance and when Zamolo adds her delicate tones to the chorus it’s enough to touch the hardest of hearts. 

But even that song pales against ‘Even More’, another acoustic based ballad that Forshaw wrote and sings, his slightly raspy voice sounding like it’s going to crack with emotion any second. Again Zamolo’s brief vocal contributions bring so much to the song. The song fades out on a gorgeous melody that leaves the listener begging for more. That the following track, ‘Sound Mirror’ is an (all too short) instrumental featuring a National Steel, acoustic guitar and some particularly effective percussion from Godfrey without interrupting the flow of the album one jot is proof that this band know exactly what they are doing and aiming for. 

For all the initial feelings that this little gem of an album had its roots in those Laurel Canyon hills, I’m pleased that I started this review saying that it was only part of the story. The longer you listen to this album the further away those claims seem; Little Mountain may well have taken inspiration from those golden days and do little in places to hide the fact, but there’s no denying that the trio have created something of their own here, and the more you are exposed to this music the more you realise that Godfrey, Zamolo and Forshaw are three very individual talents who, when playing together, create a new and beautiful music. 

‘Little Mountain’ is released in the UK on March 16th but you can sample the album on the band’s website at http://www.littlemountain.co/listen/a/little_mountain but be prepared then to buy the album when it’s finally out. Even after just one play, it will end up on your must-have list.