Last year, a British singer-songwriter living in Spain by the name of David Philips made a no-frills record, The Rooftop Recordings, a bare-bones set of home recordings that depended entirely on Philips’ songs and his singing them to the accompaniment of merely an acoustic guitar to make this album deliver. And it did, quite well, too: I opined that this “simple pleasure” made Philips “a Chris Smither from the other side of the pond.”
Next February, the Barcelona-based troubador will have another unadorned album forthcoming, entitled December Wine (4 Track Tapes), which as the name implies, was captured using a four-track cassette machine. Keeping it simple and pure seems to be a good strategy to continue, since that plays straight to Philips’ strengths as a songwriter, singer and an accomplished guitar fingerpicker.
While we’re waiting for a couple of months to find out if this record is going to be as good as the last one, there’s an advance single out to give us a taste, and it bodes well for the rest of the album. “A Sailor’s Song” is a soulful but straightforward folk tune sung and played not too unlike Kelly Joe Phelps…which means I’m liking this already. There’s a bit more percussion than the foot stomping used for The Rooftop Recordings, but not much more, and that two-beat thump gives the tune a head-nodding lift in an inconspicuous way. And Philips strings together lyrics like a poet, not too mysterious but nowhere near trite, either.
Listen to the song here: