Jack River’s (Holy Rankin) debut album, Sugar Mountain, is an eclectic neon-pop masterpiece which pulls back the curtain on the sugar-coated utopia that Rankin fantasised about as a child but unfortunately, never got to experience. When she was just 14-years old, Rankin’s world became shrouded with tragedy when her younger sister passed away unexpectedly. Music became Rankin’s catharsis and from it, her alter ego (Jack River) was born.
Sugar Mountain offers so much more than just glittery sonics and catchy choruses. Rankin’s contemplative and often grief-stricken lyrics arouse a mix of emotions which make you want to dance and cry at the same time. The album contrasts stripped back acoustic gems like the melancholic ‘Her smile’ (which was dedicated to Rankin’s late sister) and the intimate ‘In Infinity’, with colourful pop ballads like ‘Ballroom’ and ‘Fool’s Gold’ (which was nominated for a J-Award in 2017).
In truth, it’s hard to criticise any of the songs on this album, but for me personally there are two stand-out tracks which first drew my attention towards Jack River: ’Fault Line’, which is an emotive anthem propelled by a powerful beat, gritty guitar hooks, and a truly cosmic chorus; and ‘Limo Song’, which is a dreamy sing-along with a distinct whistling hook that makes it hard to forget.
While most listeners probably haven’t experienced the kind of loss and suffering that Rankin has, the magic of Sugar Mountain is that it provides an escape for anyone who listens. No matter who you are or what you have lived through, Rankin opens the door and invites you to step into her fantasy-world, filled with both sunshine and storm clouds. This album is many things. It’s passionate, it’s intense, it’s dark, it’s dreamy and it’s certainly worth a listen.