David Phillips – Winter (2017)

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When surveying his history and discography it’s quite clear that David Philips is diversely talented enough to make whatever the hell kind of music he wants to make without any outside help, and make it well. So when this British expat who now call Barcelona, Spain his home locked himself up in a studio last winter to make a more-or-less straightforward rock album, it was going to be interesting to see if this singer-songwriter mostly known for stripped down folk hymns could maintain that notion.

Winter, now out from Black and Tan Records, does.

It’s a fully produced album, but perhaps ‘fully produced’ only by the standards of roots rock. Philips plays all the instruments, as he always does, but there’s more to play: guitars, bass, drums, lead and background vocals. He puts it all together in a mix that resembles a real band, and wrote eight new tunes that have hooks and riffs, leaving just enough space to let his lead guitarist side flourish.

The furry analog blare of “Changes” is immediately inviting to ears attuned to seventies classic rock and the grit quickly dismisses any idea that Philips would go commercial. The soul-infused blues-rock “Mary” is a dead ringer for a Doyle Bramhall II cut, and an occasion for Philips to show what he’s got in the hot licks department. He takes a three-chord riff far on “Rich Man” and goes rural with harmonica and acoustic guitar on the eminently catchy “Home.”

And then he shows off Hendrix chops with a dash of Bad Company and Stevie Ray Vaughan thrown in on “The One” (video above) as well as on “Running,” while “Your Way” downshifts to a lilting ballad tempo. The album closer “That’s Alright” seems bound to be all about a heavy guitar riff before unexpectedly encountering a soulful psychedelic interlude laced with ace blues chops.

Clocking in at a lean half an hour, Winter concludes maybe a little sooner than we’d like, but that running time was par for course in the vinyl age, and it’s much better to have that old feeling even if it means revisiting one of its small limitations. At least I didn’t have to get up to flip the record over in the middle of it.

David Philips has again made music without making any concessions.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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