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Cory Mon / Press

“The Road to Hana in east Maui is one of the Hawaiian Islands’ most spectacular road trips, with 59 bridges — 46 of which are only one lane wide — over 52 miles of rainforest-lined pavement (and plenty of dirt). There are also 620 curves in those 52 miles. That makes the road quickly intolerable for anyone with a queasy stomach after spending a week eating endless Hawaiian plate lunches. So it prompts an eternal question among vacationers: Do you want to drive the rest of this road, or would you rather turn around and hang out at the beach? Utah folk-rock veteran Cory Mon is one of the those who took the road less traveled — less traveled when it comes to vacationers who skipped the last 50 miles of the Road to Hana to instead snorkel with the sea turtles on Ka’anapali Beach. After a soul-draining experience that made him consider quitting music, Mon spent four months in Hana to regroup, reflect and cleanse. He returned to Utah, got married and recorded a new, unabashedly aliv”

“But despite the seemingly large amount of dark subject matter, the strikingly honest North isn’t a dark album—quite the opposite, so much so that Mon describes the sunny songs as “a bit of a departure” from his past, more brooding work. For example, the hopeful “Brother,” Mon says, is a message to his brother that says, “Hey dude, I love you, let’s move forward, let’s fix this.” Featuring breezy acoustic guitar, a barefoot-on-the-beach vibe and Mon’s clear, powerful voice, North lives up to its focus, which is the need for “more happiness, more goodness,” Mon says. “I’m tried of being a wretch, I’m tired of being sad. Let’s just be happy and move on.””

"A fantastic mix of gentle bluegrass instrumentation and simmering Western blues, the album is at times reminiscent of The Felice Brothers."

“Some of the songs on "North" deal with this particular loss, as well as other hardships. At its core, however, Mon said the new LP is thoroughly optimistic, as opposed to his previous album, the relatively dreary "Turncoats." "Everything looks north, and looks for hope," he explained. "It's time to conquer my demons. That was kind of the basis of the whole album, I'd say." "I think this album, more than anything, has been really fortuitous, just falling in my lap," Mon said. "I'd kind of given up on chasing music full time, and was just going to let what needs to happen happen. And everything just came together. It was like the universe saying, 'All right, go get it, man.'"”

"With a pliable voice that veers from somewhere near The Waterboys’ Mike Scott to Tom Waits’ gravelly croon, Cory Mon is capable of evoking any number of emotions in the listener’s imagination. This 11-song set by one of three top finishers in the 2011 City Weekly Music Awards is remarkably assured; Mon has a definite vision and it’s present in everything from the dusty folk-rock of songs like “Gypsy” and the addictive “3 Step” to the Old West motif of the album’s artwork. “Hold” and “Colors Fade” are both winning ballads, and the harmonica-fueled “Broken Train” is a highlight. Throughout, guitarist Eric Ellsworth proves a worthy partner/foil to bandleader Mon. Turncoats is a strong addition to the band’s catalog."

"Mon’s vocal ensures some degree of consistency. His sassy, expressive inflection gives each song its distinctive design and, truth be told, provides the single most compelling element for the album as a whole. A rustic patchwork of sepia-tinged imagery imbues the effort overall."

"Officially speaking, Cory Mon’s latest collection of roots-rock, Turn Coats, isn’t being released until March. But I’m guessing you’ll get an earful of the new goods at his shows between now and then. Just don’t expect a giant dose of mindless, feel-good pop from this Orem tunesmith. “As a songwriter, you want to write good, catchy, fun tunes—or whatever will make people listen—and I kind of said ‘Fuck it’ on this one and wrote exactly what I wanted to say,” Mon told City Weekly in a recent profile. “Music is so therapeutic for me, I use it to express angers and frustrations that I normally just internalize.” That doesn’t mean the songs on Turn Coats are off-putting. Quite the opposite, in fact; Mon and his band The Starlight Gospel make honesty sound extremely inviting on his new tunes."

"The whole album mixes styles and rhythms with amazing ease. It's obvious that Cory and the entire band have a wide variety of influences, which they mix and match to meet the needs of a particular song. Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel offer a unique blend of musical styles that makes Turncoats a great album. If you're looking for a new Americana band to try, I'd encourage you to pick this one up. It's definitely not your parents' version of Americana!"

"March 1, 2011 sees the release of Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel's Turncoats, produced, recorded and engineered by Chad Weis (Mason Jennings, Martin Sexton, The Bad Plus, Ben Kweller). Helmed by singer/songwriter Cory Mon (vocals, keys, harmonica, guitar), The Starlight Gospel features Eric Ellsworth (vocals, keys, harmonica, electric guitar), Joshua Dunn (standup and electric bass), and Ronnie Strauss (drums & percussion). Written and recorded at Mon's home studio, Turncoats will be released on Mon's own label, My Forlorn Wallet. Given the proliferation of DIY, self-released, self-financed albums with the advent of independent digital distribution through companies such as Bandcamp and CDBaby, Amplifier has asked Mon to give its readers the nitty gritty on the pros and cons of controlling his own destiny..."

"Turncoats, the sophomore release from Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel, is available now. It's dark, it's daring, it's sort of like the soundtrack to the weirdest days of your life. So far, anyway."

"It’s no surprise, then, that Mon readily admits that among the new album’s 11 songs are some of the darkest he’s ever penned. But happiness comes to the musician when he has a guitar in his hands, prompting a ready smile that curls up in the middle of a wispy ginger beard. “The best way to get through bad times is to write about it,” he said. “I’ve had ups and downs, and music has helped me deal with depression. It’s a way to harness it.”

“The new album 'Turncoats', it's dynamic waxing, waning and eventual build mirror, as a whole, Cory Mon & The Starlight Gospel."”

"Mon’s backed by the Starlight Gospel, but their name is deceiving; led by musical prodigy Eric Ellsworth, they’re desert-dwelling rockers, not a church choir."

"This ain't no Sunday Morning choir. This is roots-rock at it's finest!"

Rebecca Thoreson - The Watch Telluride