Pantaleimon

Mercy Oceans

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Much early-21st century alt-folk is sparse, but Pantaleimon's second album is spare even by the style's standards. Here Pantaleimon is pretty much a show run by multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter Andria Degens, though a few guests add touches on cello, harp, guitar, and backing vocals. She favors the Appalachian dulcimer more than any other instrument (although she also plays occasional bouzouki, octave mandola, and drones), which gives this something of a mountain folk music feel. Traditional Appalachian folk music, however, did not sound much like this, as Degens' vocals have a breathy unhurried quality, and her songs a generally low-key, subdued air. If not quite despondent, they certainly burst with far more introspection than energy, gently intoning states of mind highly informed by natural imagery such as the sun, stars, water, light, birds, sun, and thunder. It's pretty, if in a very sleepy sort of way that brings to mind a singer/songwriter perennially rooted in place in a field or on a hillside. There were quite a few roughly similar alt-folk albums issued around the same time, however, and one has the feeling this might be bound to get a little lost in the shuffle and considered a cult item decades down the line by genre specialists, as it's not the most impressive such effort. And why is there a two-minute gap between the next-to-last song and the concluding track ("Storm and Thunder"), which can't be considered a bonus cut as it's listed on the sleeve?

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