Philip Stevenson

Starless

Written by: DR on 18/05/2010 17:34:44

Philip Stevenson is a singer/songwriter from Washington DC, who picked up first instrument (bass) when he was 17. At that age boys are usually out drinking and picking up STIs, but not Stevenson. He was too busy exerting his love for music by being in five bands. Now, after all of the bands he has been in have dissipated, he has focused his endeavours on a solo project. He already has one album, "Dago Red", under his belt, but it his latest release is "Starless", which was recorded last autumn in the space of just two weeks, that I shall be reviewing.

Famed producer/musician Jim Dickinson was impressed, as he declared, before his death, "His songs make me want to dress in black, smoke picayune shorts, and drink Irish whiskey." See, PS plays what he calls "experimental acoustic", but I disagree with such a tag. This is because Stevenson has clearly grew up listening to the classics, Dylan, Young and 30s jazz, you'll probably be able to sense some clear influence from The Beatles, and as such, clear psychedelic elements can be heard, particularly on the tracks "I'm A Boy" and "Deuteronomy". It's because of that influence that those songs are the best to be found on "Starless". Why is coming soon enough. The rest, in comparison, are slow-to-mid tempo outfits with dreamy musicianship underneath Stevenson's attempts at dreary, whispered and heartfelt vocals. Quite frankly, not one of those songs works. His vocals don't have the range or the character required to pull off such slow songs, resulting in dull, lifeless messes, that offer little else beside the odd easy-on-the-ear chords.

"Starless" isn't entirely without reward, however. Remember how I acclaimed "I'm A Boy" and "Deuteronomy" to be the stand out tracks? This is because of a garage-y, blues influence that suits Stevenson down to ground as he not only removes the restraints from his vocal chords, but also from his guitar, and just lets loose. This is the avenue he should be adventuring down in further in the future, I can’t really understand why he hasn’t done so on “Starless”, because those two songs are fun and catchy as hell. As it is, they are the only songs you'll consider coming back to in the future.

5

Download: I'm A Boy, Deuteronomy
For The Fans of: Elliott Smith, singer/songwriters
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 23.03.2010
Night World Records

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