I was really tough on Phillip Phillips during the American Idol competition. Between his pitchy singing and his tendency to suck all of the melody out of a song when he re-arranged it, I could not imagine I would be a fan of his post-Idol music.
But guess what. Mea Culpa people. I have turned into a bonified Philatic.
My journey to Phil Phandom (sorry!) began on the night of the American Idol final. I held my breath as Phillip began to sing his coronation song, a little afraid to hear what dreck the Idol machine had saddled him with. But wouldn’t you know–“Home” not only DID NOT SUCK, it was really really REALLY GOOD. And the song only grew on me more as it became the anthem of the Olymmpics Fierce Five Womens’ gymnastics team, part of a Clint Eastwood movie promo, the back drop for an insurance commercial and MORE. In it’s own way, “Home” was the song of the summer.
Still, I figured Phil just struck it lucky with a good song–one that he did not write. Would I like an album of songs he co-wrote? After hearing an advance copy of the album last week I can answer that question with a resounding YES.
I have to admit that my favorite song is one of the two songs besides “Home” that Phillip didn’t have a hand in writing. “Gone, Gone, Gone”–penned by Derek Fuhrmann, Todd Clark, and Phillip’s album producer, Gregg Wattenberg–is every bit as anthemic as “Home” and could break on the radio just as big if it becomes the next single (IT SHOULD).
But, somewhere along the way, Phillip learned how to write a melody! Or maybe the arrangements he was creating during the Idol competition weren’t as good as they could be. Phillip was suffering from a debilitating kidney condition all through the contest. Or, his co-writers made up for Phil’s melody deficit the missing holes. But what would account for two songs written solely by Phillip? “Hold On”, a sweeping, lovely tune, or the haunting opening track, “Man on the Moon”, a song that’s stayed with me since I heard it. Phillip can write a melody.
Other stand out tunes, for me, include the sweet-folky “Can’t Go Wrong” a co-write with “Home” writers, Greg Holden and Drew Pearson. The moving and romantic “Tell Me a Story” has strings, mandolin and an epic choir in the back drop. “You are the sun that leads me, You are the moon that pulls me, you are the life leads me…”
For those of you who did Phil’s funk side, there is “Where we Came From” and “Drive Me”.
My only real criticism of the record is that the sound of the album bounces back and forth between Dave Matthews jazz rock and the folk-Americana of Mumford and Sons. Phillip is still finding a voice that is quintessentially his own, but “The World From the Side of the Moon” is a solid start to getting there.