In a less fraught time, Jeffrey Silverstein’s You Become the Mountain might have made for a faithful Sunday morning companion—your weekly record of choice while you sit with your coffee cup, rubbing sleep from tired eyes as dawn breaks into day.
An East Coast indie rock alumnus who resettled to the majestic Pacific Northwest, Silverstein funnels the vistas of his new home, his humbling experiences as a special-education teacher, and the mantric repetition of endurance sports into these nine gentle pieces. They collectively unspool with the warmth of a deep yawn. Traced by pedal steel’s amber glow and anchored by simple programmed beats, Silverstein sings of sweet dogs he’s known with a wry twinkle that recalls David Berman, and slides through scenic instrumentals with the easy grace of an Econoline Bill Frisell.
But in our actual time, You Become the Mountain feels instead like a daily ritual, a 38-minute sun salutation that leaves you with welcome stockpiles of fleeting feelings, like worth or meaning. Browsing the flotsam of a yard sale, Silverstein found a stack of used tapes by mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn, which he samples alongside clips of happy children playing during the opener “A Dog’s Age,” a song that radiates the comfort of an old friend’s smile. “As you sit here, you share in the massiveness and the stillness and the majesty of the mountain,” Kabat-Zinn says near the song’s end, the guitars trailing around him like cloud wisps. “You become the mountain.”
This sense of pleasant affirmation ripples through the rest of the record, from the instrumental exhalation of “Door at the Top of Your Head” to the guileless beauty of “Easy Rider,” where Silverstein sweetly intones koans about being kind to yourself and your future prospects. “Turn yourself into a passing cloud,” he sings at one point, his tender voice draped over bulbous country bass and pedal steel lines that suggest an endless horizon. “Something of which you’re proud.” Maybe that sounds a little cheesy, like a cynic’s stereotype of a New Age type. Sure, it is—but it’s also so beautiful and disarming that you want to sit still with Silverstein if only for a moment, taking the time to believe in something better than the day’s dread.