Phil Marshall – Scatterbed (2016)

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Having accrued a global following as Colorblind James Experience’s lead guitarist in the 1980s and early ’90s, Phil Marshall has just issued his long-awaited solo debut album. Coined Scatterbed, the seeds of the project were planted a couple of years ago when Phil hooked up with Chris Zajkowski, who is known to many as psychedelic pop rock guru Squires of the Subterrain. Chris plays drums on Scatterbed, as well as pitching in on background vocals.

Mystical and moody, Scatterbed (Rocket Racket Records) is the ideal vehicle for Phil Marshall’s introspective thoughts and experimental sounds. Dipping into an expansive pool of styles, ranging from jazz to blues to low-fi progressive rock to lounge-attired pop, the album further embraces a variety of emotions. Even a dab of Hawaiian flavoring appears in the mix, as evidenced on “Heaven Is Waiting,” while “Home Sweet Home” nicks a trick from the symphonic splendor of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band album, thanks to the tooting trumpet expertise of Todd Bradley.

Elsewhere, there’s the haunting “Grief Walks In,” “Black Ice,” “Faith,” “Wrapped in a Comet’s Tail,” and “Ebb and Flow,” not to omit the catchy rock rhythms of “Nothing Left to Lose” that includes a burst of nagging riffing from the legendary Pete Miller, or “Resting Pulse,” which involves some airtight sax blowing from Mark Bradley.

Phil Marshall’s vocals are sleepy and detached, resulting in a hypnotic tone that’s both mysterious and seductive. The influence of the freak-out phase of the Beach Boys can’t be denied, nor can a love of Pink Floyd. Yet Phil approaches his songs at unique angles, so there’s no mistaking his art for fascimilies of his inspirations.

Sparsely furnished in the instrumental and arrangement department, but rippling with bare-the-soul prose, Phil Marshall’s Scatterbed clocks in as the ultimate rainy day album. Way to go, Phil – you’ve passed the audition!

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 with "Stand By Me" -- which is actually one of her favorite songs, especially John Lennon's version. She's contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as Rock Beat International's associate editor. Paterson has also published Inside Out, and Twist & Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Beverly Paterson
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