Home > News & Reviews > The Mountain Goats

The Mountain Goats - Jenny From Thebes (Album Review)

Wednesday, 01 November 2023 Written by Craig Howieson

Photo: Jackie Lee Young 

Serious questions would need to be raised if anyone claimed to be the same person that they were 20 years ago. Time ultimately softens some aspects of our personalities while hardening others against the world. And, while there is no shame in being content with our own histories, most people would go back and make a few changes if they could.

Bar the soft, endearing inflection of John Darnielle's voice there are few similarities between the band The Mountain Goats are today and what they were when he made ‘All Hail West Texas’ with a boombox and an acoustic 21 years ago. And yet here we are, with ‘Jenny From Thebes’ serving as a sequel to that seminal record while emphatically flipping the script.

Rather than return to the tape hiss and bare-bones presentation of ‘All Hail West Texas’, this is exactly what we have come to expect from Darnielle in recent years — a graceful, beautifully executed full-band soft-rock record with lyrics that will tie listeners up for days in his densely populated world. 

Horn swells and the emphatic climax of Fresh Tattoo turns a devilishly downbeat tale into something utterly euphoric, while Going To Dallas further ramps up Darnielle’s friendly rivalry with Craig Finn when it comes to capturing the minor wins of life's dropouts. 

It would be easy to write an essay on each of Darnielle's songs, never mind a whole record, and while the lyrical content is exquisite the real triumph in ‘Jenny From Thebes’ as a sequel is the mirror it holds up to the band and listeners alike. Through his characters Darnielle is able to assess who he was then and who he is now as well as charting the evolution of his band and extended community of musicians.

For many, ‘All Hail West Texas’ will remain an all time favourite record and be forever intertwined with a specific moment in time. Sometimes that is all you want from a band. But it is also pretty special when you can follow a group throughout their lifetime and yours, growing together to chart your respective progressions, and analyse your past indiscretions. On ‘Jenny from Thebes’ The Mountain Goats remind us why they are a cherished companion. 


We don't run any advertising! Our editorial content is solely funded by lovely people like yourself using Stereoboard's listings when buying tickets for live events. To keep supporting us, next time you're looking for concert, festival, sport or theatre tickets, please search for "Stereoboard". It costs you nothing, you may find a better price than the usual outlets, and save yourself from waiting in an endless queue on Friday mornings as we list ALL available sellers!

Let Us Know Your Thoughts

Related News

Tue 26 Sep 2023
The Mountain Goats Share New Song Murder At The 18th Street Garage
Wed 23 Aug 2023
The Mountain Goats Release New Single Fresh Tattoo From Upcoming LP 'Jenny From Thebes'
Thu 20 Jul 2023
The Mountain Goats Announce New Album 'Jenny From Thebes' With Lead Single Clean Slate
< Prev   Next >