Progressive and intelligent in its scope, Phantom Moon continues in the same fine line as Duncan Sheik”s other works, embracing its audience with gentle folksiness and grassroots rock. Ostensibly a contemporary pop album (albeit far more well-conceived), the album emerges rather as a type of baroque compilation of soothing melodies. Aesthetically, the album reaches at perfection and comes close. Duncan Sheik, troubadour of sorts, manages to infuse rock with the Romantic Movement. Heavily influenced by little-known 1970″s counterpart Nick Drake, Phantom Moon contains many interesting musical arrangements that are virtually unseen in much of today”s music. Almost completely dependent on his acoustic guitar, the album flows with the ease of a delicate daydream.

Paul Wong
Walter (Charles Sutherland) stands over Hildy (Carl Hanna) in “”The Front Page.””<br><br>Courtesy of Glenn Bugala

In going against the grain of modern pop, Duncan has daringly forged an exclusive sound that cannot be emulated by many other artists. Reliant on simplicity and standing without gimmicks or images, Phantom Moon becomes accessible to its listeners. This is the real deal non-commercial and unadulterated with petty strivings at glam, this stuff is as organic as it comes.

Phantom Moon”s track list is superb all around slightly variant from Duncan”s last album, Humming, the present endeavor still contains some of the Duncan Sheik flavor with a dash of folk. Particularly well-written tunes include: “Mr. Chess” and “Sad Stephen”s Song.” Also to be savored are the melodic, ode-like “This is How My Heart Heard” and “Requiescat.”

Intimacy reigns supreme on this album, as does romanticism. Not in a while has something so beautiful and stimulating emerged from a mainstream pop artist. (A subtle enough hint to the consumer of popular music?)

Grade: A

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