Sophomore jinx, you say? Bah, with a name like Phillip Phillips you should have known the second would be just as good as the first.
A mere 18 months after the release of his platinum smash debut LP, "World From The Side Of The Moon", P2 is showing us he has a prolific streak with the release of his fresh 15 track, self-penned album, "Behind The Light".
I gotta confess, I was a bit nervous at first. So often after a taste of debut success, we see artist's shit the bed on the sophomore effort, seduced by the allure of studio overproduction and synth. The result is invariably a collection of formula dreck with no value other than milking the first album's popularity for a quick buck.
Fortunately, my fears were unwarranted.
In a nutshell, BTL offers up a unique, individual expression while maintaining enough characteristics from WFTSOTM to give fans a sense of continuity with Phillip's signature style and sound.
That's not to say there aren't many different flavors and spices here. The album is cohesive variety, and has the right mix of styles for extended listening. Every track moves with a nice groove, and is overall a bit tighter than the debut effort.
While a large string section contributes to give a generally bigger sound to much of the album, special props need to be given to Errol Cooney, Dave Eggar and Jason Thomas for some phenomenal musicianship. Along with Phillip, this group forms a truly talented band of musicians, and I look forward to seeing them push the envelope even further in the love shows.
So, what if anything would I change about the album, you ask? Well, maybe it's nitpicking, but I would like to see him go heavier still on the rock, reduce the anthem pop choruses, and just get edgier overall...like he does live. That said, I respect that he has to appeal to his label and his teen pop audience, in addition to older, hardcore fans like myself who want to see him dig even deeper.
With that said, I should emphasize that it's really a great CD . I've been looping it for two days, and haven't needed to skip a song yet. That was also the case with his 1st album, which I've happily worn out, and is testimony to how consistently strong Phillip is as a singer, composer and musician.
P2's future Behind The Light is indeed very bright, and I give his sophomore effort the FULL FOUR POO'S.
Here is my track-by-track brief summary.
- Searchlight - A catchy, poppy tune with an infectious beat. Phil's growling voice gives it some needed heft.
- Raging Fire - Inspirational pop rock anthem
- Trigger - A haunting hard rock track with early Genesis influences. REALLY, REALLY dig this one.
- Lead On - A cool, funky, upbeat jam that provides a nice mood counterbalance to Trigger.
- Alive Again - Driving, inspirational pop rock.
- Open Your Eyes - See "Alive Again"
- Fool For You - GREAT song with an unmistakeable Bruce Springsteen vibe. This needs to be the next single.
- Thicket - The dark, instrumental masterpiece of the album which reflects P2's Dave Mathews side. Think "The Stone".
- Fly - This track ROCKS! Clever use of steel guitar (I'm guessing) to simulate the sound of a fly.
- Unpack Your Heart - Inspirational pop rock...the Can't Go Wrong of the album.
- Face - Reminds me a bit of the classic Stray Cat Strut by The Stray Cats. Great acoustic guitar work. LOVE this tune.
- Midnight Sun - The Gone Gone Gone of the album.
- My Boy - Wonderful acoustic number. Rich and full with a nice groove. Think Bill Withers. Great shit.
- Don't Trust Me - The "Man On The Moon" of BTL. Get up and dance with a drink in your hand!
- Armless Crawler - Mid-tempo rock with a refreshingly anthem-free chorus. Ear wormy.
Poo over, Poo out.