Mt. Egypt Perspectives

[Record Collection; 2005]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: singer-songwriter, wistful folk, roots-rock
Others: Hayden, Bright Eyes, Will Oldham

Mt. Egypt is Travis Graves, a journeyman native to Virginia who cut his musical teeth on the road with performers as disparate as the Flaming Lips, Modest Mouse, Cat Power, Cass McCombs, and Willie Nelson. Perspectives is the follow-up to Graves' 2003 debut, Battening the Hatches, which I for one had never heard of. There may be good reasons why, too — Mt. Egypt is the sort of pretty, lovingly produced singer-songwriter stuff that isn't overtly cool or fringey enough to break through the indie crust, but isn't polished enough to make it to the radio. Less arresting than Will Oldham's work, or even Jason Molina's, Perspectives is nonetheless a decent record. It certainly starts slowly, though. "We Are Here" and "Sing Till I" are both plodding dirges, but "Can You Feel the Wind" picks things up to the pace of something off a recent Magnolia Electric Co. album. Graves' musical phrasings are simple but undeniably winsome on "The Now Penguin," and "Snow Through the Pass" is another welcome change to a faster tempo. The album's second half, in fact, reminds me of Sondre Lerche's work, though less polished and more melancholy in tone. Perspectives closes with "Zuma Beach," perhaps the most Oldham-inspired tune and the album's shortest. Graves is at his most effective when he sticks to a simple motif, when he can be at his most memorable. It's difficult to stand apart when working in this genre, and while Graves doesn't really succeed at distinguishing himself, Perspectives does a good job of establishing Mt. Egypt as what it is right now: a good opening act.

1. We Are Here
2. Sing Till I
3. Can You Feel The Wind
4. Yeah Man (Humans Need Humans)
5. The Now Penguin
6. Snow Through The Pass
7. I Will Enjoy
8. St. Augustine's Road
9. Song For My Father
10. Zuma Beach