Merriam-Webster defines the word “anthem” in the following ways:
a patriotic anthem
anthems of teenage angst
Though these four explanations for the term “anthem” have very distinct identifying qualities between them, “Mountains,” the new single of multi-Grammy winning songwriter and producer Jonas Myrin, manages to encompass each of the four in a neatly written and blended three and a half minute song. Given the inspirational nature of Myrin’s existing body of solo work –– particularly his most recent two songs, “For the Ones We Love” and “Not Alone” –– the sentiment of this latest track isn’t a surprising or novel direction for the Swedish, Los Angeles-based artist. However, that doesn’t mean that “Mountain” is simply a phoned-in revisitation of treaded creative ground.
Music with anthemic characteristics, which “Mountains” checks off in spades with decisive clarity –– bold percussive beats; expansive, polished, sonic production; and succinct, catchy, and repeated lyrical phrasing –– certainly isn’t limited to the devotional or spiritual music space. However, much of what keeps Myrin’s embrace of uplifting and spiritually-minded music so engaging, release after release, lies in his openness to adjusting the style of delivery that’s paired with his chosen concept. For “Mountains,” the song’s central mentality is one that has been a recurring theme throughout the past several years: finding the strength to do what one needs and-or wants to do in their lives, no matter the adversity that presents itself along the way to achieving those goals.
“Mountains” plays with contrast via the musical arrangement and the shift in dynamics between verse and chorus. This helps weave a stronger sense of tension and release into the somewhat minimal chord progression used throughout the song. Myrin’s opening verses are sung as nearly solo vocals, made grander with just a touch of reverb and delay. This drives home the feeling of solitary introspection and contemplating one’s own thoughts –– almost sounding like an internal monologue or even a form of candid prayer. Part of the upcoming refrain is teased at the very beginning in a mildly distorted and filtered fashion. Similar to the way a story’s narrative may introduce a reader or viewer to a scene in mid-development and without context, “Mountains” retraces the path that leads to the declarative opening tease. This makes for a clever nod to the idea of the titular structure, as the song gradually “ascends” back to its starting point, except the listener has gleaned broader context and the self-assured stance of the chorus feels logical and earned.
I feel you rush
through my veins
and no matter the fear i feel now
I will be brave
I can move mountains
I can move mountains high
I can move mountains now
– Lyrics from “Mountains”
The visuals to the video –– stunning panoramas of nature and mountain tops, alternating with a darkened space projecting lit up words of positive affirmation –– both correlate to the title but also convey a sense of unspoken awesomeness and an appreciation for the larger-than-life aspects of the world, in two entirely different but vibrant and memorable ways. While the refrain seems on the surface to be paired with verses not of an explicitly spiritual tone, Myrin isn’t shying away from his feelings or values out of shame or in order to put cross-demographic profit at the forefront. It’s simply a matter of knowing who he is as an artist. Myrin knows how to acknowledge what’s personally important to him using every dimension of a song’s identity: its narrative, its melodic and dynamic peaks and valleys, it’s lyrical structure, its instrumentation, and its tonal character. Myrin just opts for vocabulary and phrases that don’t immediately pigeonhole his music in a way that’s more likely to be judged or dismissed outright. Nevertheless, there’s plenty to be said for finding ways to make the mood and purpose of a song known without stating it in an overt manner, such as is demonstrated at the beginning of “Mountains.” In fact, it’s this subtle flexibility, wherein the music can resonate both with folks who share Myrin’s perspective, as well as those who aren’t necessarily looking for a spiritual connection, that makes “Mountains” a shining example of why Myrin is such a strong songwriter. He is able to remain wholly true to his personal values and virtues without watering them down or disguising them to fit a commercial mold, while crafting a track with bold and wide-reaching emotional resonance that’s as approachable as the arena pop track next door.
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