Just two months ago, the Indy reported that Mount Moriah—the smoldering folk-rock intersection of Bellafea’s Heather McEntire and Horseback mastermind Jenks Miller—had signed to Durham-based indie power, Merge Records. A few weeks later, the label reissued the outfit’s sterling 2011 debut on vinyl. And now, right on cue, comes news that Mount Moriah’s sophomore effort and proper Merge debut will be released on Feb. 26. The record is called Miracle Temple. That’s the barn-burning album art above.

In keeping with the band’s momentum, Miracle Temple is a more up-tempo affair than its predecessor, filling some of the group’s tension-inducing spaciousness without forsaking the music’s emotional resonance. Cut at Nasheville’s Beech House studio with Lambchop alum Mark Nevers, the album features contributions from the group’s now firmly entrenched bassist, Casey Toll, and frequent drummer James Wallace, as well as Amy Ray and Daniel Hart. The later adds cutting violin that lends intriguing new depth to the arrangements.

Musically, Miracle Temple pushes Mount Moriah in a variety of directions. “Swannanoa” is powered by the kind of searing, strung-out riff that has come to define Miller’s metallic Horseback, adding menace to the bright harmonies of McEntire and Wallace. Opener “Younger Days” is more pop than anything the band has previously tried, bounding forth with a bouncing honky-tonk bass line and a wistful narrative that’s not far removed from the musings of Triangle ex-pat Tift Merritt. Best of all might be “Telling the Hour,” a Bellafea cover that has become a staple of the band’s live sets. Finally given a studio recording, the closing number bolsters Miller’s cathartic guitar lines with ominous strings and piano; it keys on one of McEntire’s most affecting vocal performances to date. The full track list is below:

Mount Moriah
Miracle Temple

1. Younger Days
2. Bright Light
3. Eureka Springs
4. I Built a Town
5. White Sands
6. Connecticut to Carolina
7. Rosemary
8. Swannanoa
9. Miracle Temple Holiness
10. Union Street Bridge
11. Those Girls
12. Telling the Hour