Anamude – Pentimento

Anamude
Pentimento

San Francisco’s Anamude has a unique approach to the singer/songwriter genre. The opening instrumental “A Dim-lit Road” sets the stage for a release of quiet yet intimately moving acoustic-driven songs that are influenced by folk, pop, and even blues. Joined by members of the Decemberists, Norfolk & Western, and Tracker, Anamude fills her lush but light songs on Pentimento with drums, bass, viola, piano, organ, mellotron, vibraphones, and more, but always at the forefront is her voice and her acoustic guitar.

And that voice is enough to give her songs her own unique flair. Almost impossible to describe, it’s a bit monotone yet still full of inflection, with a kind of off-kilter tunefulness that brings to mind PJ Harvey or Kristen Hersh, and while it can be a bit disconcerting, it’s also oddly soothing, almost an instrument in itself. Take, for example, the oddly discordant “No One #2,” which features almost all Anamude’s voice and some unusual percussion. There’s finger-snapping accompaniment on “The Train’s Here” and the oddly monotone-sung vocals mixing with pretty strings and strangely plucked/struck notes of “Improbably Airplane.” But then there’s also the quiet and lovely, almost atmospheric approach to “Distance and the Flood” and the delicate yet almost amazingly pretty ending to “New Leaves,” which is surely my favorite moment on this album.

The best track here is likely “Confetti in the Sea,” a wonderful folk-influenced song where the acoustic guitar simultaneously chimes and strikes, and the backing cymbals truly give the feel of waves crashing. On “The Night Was Just Black,” the guitar is nearly jazzy and complimented by lush strings. And everything comes together on the wonderful folk-influenced “Faded Things.” Here, Anamude’s guitar is perfect, her voice subtle but moving, and the great booming percussion lends the song an impressive weight.

Pentimento requires active listening rather than passive. For while Anamude’s guitar and the rich instrumentation may be sweet at times, it’s also a little off-kilter, with unique time changes and unusual flows. The result is often pretty, often unusually striking. And the artwork, as to be expected from the excellent KEEP Recordings, is just as pretty and striking. Truly a nice package.