AOTY 2023
Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains
Critic Score
Based on 21 reviews
2019 Ratings: #18 / 802
Year End Rank: #9
User Score
2019 Ratings: #36
Liked by 126 people
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The Guardian

Life has tested David Berman, and he translates it into songs of mordant wit on this fantastic collaboration with Woods.

NOW Magazine

Beyond the amber waves of grain, Purple Mountains offer fans a feast of food for thought.

Consequence of Sound

David Berman is one of our greatest living songwriters and he’s returned in beautiful, melancholic form as Purple Mountains to speak to the lifelong nihilistic depressive in all of us.


Filled with lonely songs that are as warm as a hug from a long-lost friend, Purple Mountains is more of a rebirth than a debut, as well as a potent, poignant reminder of how much Berman has been missed.

The Line of Best Fit

Purple Mountains is a project born of perspective and circumspection, not self-indulgence or score-settling. It may not be the 2019’s easiest listen, but it’s certainly its most honest, and one of the year’s most rewarding.


With strings, thoughtful arrangements, backup vocals, and rich production plus David Berman's inimitable wordplay and phrasing, Purple Mountains is a true masterpiece.

The Young Folks

Purple Mountains is a pensive, delicately woven, shatteringly lovely set of tapestries.


Purple Mountains is an excellent return to form for Berman; a worthy next chapter for a songwriter who quit, many believed, in his prime.


David Berman’s first new music in over a decade is a marvelous collection of heartbreak, grief, and bitterness. His careful writing has never sounded so exacting or direct.

Under the Radar

Purple Mountains is a monumental return for David Berman, who took the risk of collapsing into the 24-hour media cycle of indifference and irrelevance, and came out on top, stronger than imaginable.


He’s just as bummed out as ever on Purple Mountains, and he still makes being bummed out sound better than just about anyone else.

The Irish Times
Underrated frontman of Silver Jews reinvents himself but his aptitude for measured, Americana-tinged indie-rock remains unscathed.
Q Magazine
The curiously carved music is a perfect frame. Another peak.
Record Collector

Purple Mountains is no return to form – Berman left us in 2009 with no discernible lapse in quality – but a surprisingly welcome return, given the shift in quality contained herein. A purple patch, if you will, but a far deeper one than you would expect. Deep purple it is, then.

Spectrum Culture

Purple Mountains is the strongest return one could hope for from Berman, and far stronger than one might expect from someone so trapped in a quagmire of misery.

The Needle Drop

David Berman's wryly depressive (or depressively wry) songwriting seems to have only gotten sharper during his decade away from music.


Expertly sequenced as a narrative of lethargy, collapse and recovery, Purple Mountains is ultimately an album about return. It is the sound of David Berman coming back from the cold and converting it to a welcoming, lyrical warmth ... Prepare to be taken in.

Loud and Quiet

Ultimately, Purple Mountains, more than any other of his records, is his attempt to atone, to grow.

No Ripcord

It's a new start for an artist who many had proclaimed early retirement. And even if he hasn't cheered up, his return does feel consistent with his downtrodden nature—and we can only listen as it all unfolds.

Rolling Stone

Purple Mountains is the sound of that guy starting to come to terms with his reality, and maybe building a new emotional architecture in the wreckage. In any case, keep ’em coming. The journey is worth it.

The 405

If we were to discuss Purple Mountains strictly in its lyrical prowess, we’d be able to write a novel. It’s not that any lyric is particularly potent or individual, it’s just that he clearly writes his poetry from a deep understanding of what makes rock music work.


Recently, I’ve had a lot of fun writing reviews in an objective, monotone fashion. It’s not my preferred style, and most of the revered writers on the site probably think I’m some sort of try hard, but man it’s been fun trying something new and challenging myself as a writer. Making sure I don’t repeat the same word twice in a post and all. If I’m being honest though, I don’t consider myself a critic. Just a listener of music and I just like to share ... read more


Yes this is dark and wincingly self analytical...but these songs sound like they just had to come out, as if they'd half formed well before they were committed to tape.

This makes the album sound necessary and purposeful, as well as relatable and true. Dave's been living this material in his absence - of that I'm certain.

Edit: sad news, RIP


Some sad bastard songs, some with infectious arrangements. 'I Loved Being My Mother’s Son' is some super sweet mamas boy type shit. 'Maybe I’m the Only One For Me' says it all. The upbeat arrangements really even out the less than sunny themes. This isn't 'ground breaking' music, whatever the heck that means, but I will never not appreciate a quality songwriter doing his or her thing. No need to reinvent the wheel, just always looking for the people who know how to make it spin.

I ... read more


David Berman’s expression of his suffering has provided me with much catharsis throughout my sad little life.


this is too sad.



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Added on: May 24, 2019