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MERCY OCEANS, the second full length studio album, features Baby Dee, Isobel Campbell, Keith Wood (Hush Arbors), John Contreras & Jerome Alexandre. The album is contained in a beautiful digi-pak with a full -colour booklet containing lyrics, along with artwork by Beth Carter and photography by Cam Archer.
I first became acquainted with the work of Andria Degens through her contribution to the Current 93 album “Black Ships Ate the Sky”. Her cover of “Idumea” engulfed me in a world of quiet and healing warmth with a simple arrangement and a voice that sang barely above a whisper. “Mercy Oceans” contains that same feeling, only now it is magnified and multifaceted thanks to the original compositions contained within. Andria’s songwriting voice is refreshingly pure and unpretentious, falling somewhere between a healing mystic, a wide-eyed child, and a sage. Sonically, the disc is made from sparse and repetitive acoustic instrumentation that sometimes swells with cello and harp, but mostly stays back in the mix with dulcimer and guitar passages filling in the skeletons of the songs. Andria’s vocals are chant-like and hushed, at times reminiscent of the great Vashti Bunyan. The contributions of guests like Keith Wood and Baby Dee are handled with a great deal of subtlety, but add to the overall dynamic of the album.
To me, the most important thing about “Mercy Oceans” is the unmistakable magic that Andria has tapped into. I kept feeling a genuine healing presence throughout the album, like an unconditional love felt after a hard cry. This feeling completely overwhelms me every time I listen to the track “We Love”, which might just be the most beautiful piece of mystical music I have ever heard (sitting right next to This Mortal Coil’s cover of “Song to the Siren” and Psychic TV’s “The Orchids”). It seems that songs like these could only emerge from a soul that has been through an great deal of pain, only to emerge stronger and more resilient than ever. This is completely real and powerful music that can change and heal. The simplicity is monumental and the intent is strong. 10/10
– Charles Franklin, Foxy Digitalis (19 December, 2007)
This, the second full-length album by Andria Degens features a number of fellow folk travellers taking up guest spots, with the like of Hush Arbors’ Keith Wood, Isobel Campbell and Baby Dee all reporting for duty. Degens’ instrument of choice is the Appalachian dulcimer, which combines with her lulling vocal style for one of the more ethereal sounds on the current avant-folk scene. Mercy Oceans is made a little earthier by the presence of her collaborators, and certainly Keith Wood’s fingerpicked guitar brings pieces like ‘The Sun Came Out’ and ‘At Dawn’ back into a more familiar language, but the best material here comes in the stranger moments, such as ‘Born Into You’, which weaves droning tambura and chanting into a more conventional context thanks to Baby Dee’s harp and John Contreras’ cello. There are some beautiful songs here, some of which might even propel Degens into the more mainstream end of the current folk scene. Recommended.
CD ALBUM (GGM004)
1. Under The Water