Americana U.K. — Still Night

by Americana U.K. May 2004

 

Rating: * * * * * * * (out of 10 stars) Zach Phillips is a true romantic, and if the singer is the song, then he has reaped the fate of all romantics, being left in the dust by most of the women in his life. He wears his heart on his sleeve and it's bleeding all over the floor. Here he offers twelve tales of love gone wrong, ranging from the vicious "Too Far Gone" to the "share my pain" of "Cry Like I Do." Stylistically he ranges from the jaunty pop of "I Wanna Know Why" to the classic rock of "Too Far Gone", but in the main this is straight-ahead classy roots-rock. He has a fine set of influences, with echoes of everything from the jangle of the Byrds to the keyboards of the Band sprinkled over the songs. He struggles a bit with the high notes, particularly on the aforementioned "I Wanna Know Why," but generally exudes tortured soul and pained honesty. He also occasionally tends a bit too far to the sentimental, but generally pulls himself back in time. A dab hand on the guitar too, as the mean soloing throughout testifies. While virtually all the songs are tales of (his) failed love, the final track "Brightest Star" bounces along totally atypically and both encourages the listener to hope that he's in a better place than most of these songs would suggest he's used to inhabiting and offers some hope that his next album will encompass more of his obvious talent for more upbeat, happy and, dare one say it, "pop" songs. So, though perhaps a little too rooted in the rock tradition for some, this is a fine album from a seriously talented writer and performer.