Album Review: Peter Henry Phillips – The Origin
This is an outstanding album from a gifted singer songwriter. Peter Henry Phillips has the ability to capture depth of emotion in a single line. His intonation and dynamic style comes through on every track on the album. This is the kind of album that I don’t just cover for the site, but gets added to my personal collection and steady rotation for years to come. Peter Henry Phillips arrives on the scene with The Origin, establishing himself as a songwriting force with a gesture toward literary lyricism and malleable melodies.
The opening track “The Wind” has the ability to provoke deep emotions like something from the classic rock era. A careful ear will hear the passion of Led Zeppelin. The songwriting, though, is cut from a cloth from a more recent era; think of artists like Bon Iver and City and Colour for a legitimate sense of Phillips’s “league” in the industry. He’s a serious contender.
“Dreamcatcher” has swagger as well as an introspective edge that is seldom heard from his kind of artist. There’s a sort of cutting truth to it like you might hear from Johnny Cash. He deserves to be in that kind of company as well. The ethereal vocals layered over atmospheric background music (and vocals) makes for a spine-tingling anthem. It’s not a song easy to describe, but is a powerful, necessary track. It’s a song you hear and immediately replay; there’s some Fleet Foxes and a good bit of cinematic flair. It’s unmistakable and even on infinite repeat would be compelling over and over again.
Not to keep dropping names, but “I Wanna Go” shifts the gears of the album yet again, putting listeners in mind of classic acts like even the Beach Boys or Fleetwood Mac. There’s a sort of cool comfortability to the song that makes it really enjoyable. “I wanna go where the wild things are” is the key lyrics. It’s a song about being on an adventure with someone. But really, it conjures a peaceful easy feeling that puts me in mind of Dawes as much as anyone. Okay seriously that’s about the highest praise I could give; but he’s just that freaking good.
“Henry” takes on a serious vibe, even an R&B sound. The downtempo track transitions to “Be the light,” a song that has a maturity and class to it that really, really reminds me of City and Colour. The feel of the song is equal parts sensual and confident. It’s got layers of mysterious and darkness to it. Then “The Night” puts a snappier sound out there. The vocal has a crispness that’s not really heard on other parts of the album. Fans of an artist like James Morrison or Amos Lee will really like this one. It’s a killer jam that makes it impossible not to bob your head.
“Burn and Crash” is more of a pure ballad song, but don’t let that fool you. It still packs a melodic and lyrical punch. The highlight is, of course, Phillips’s almost understated powerful vocal. There are hints of Coldplay on this one (okay, seriously, I’m trying to cut down on the name drops… but tell me you don’t hear it!)
Unfortunately I had to skip a few of the tracks in this review, but there are honestly no skip tracks. Even “Tempest,” a track that is intentionally a bit disjointed and unsettling (like the storm of its moniker), is an immersive and rewarding track. The last song, though, is one I have to mention. “Young Warrior” is one part vintage R&B and another part contemporary “indie rock.” The blend works in ways that I find hard to describe. It’s sultry and seductive, while also kind of hype. It’s motivating and rewarding. “I’d fight for you til the end of time” is the important lyric here; it’s about love and perseverance. It’s a love that comes from rough-hewn hands that still know a gentle touch.
All told this is an exceptionally good album. It really should have been considered for 2015 album of the year. It’s that good. Fans of any of the bands mentioned above should really give Peter Henry Phillips a listen. I don’t think he’s going away in the industry anytime soon and I can’t wait to hear him live. He’s an extremely talented artist. He’s one of those gems we cover around here that make you say, “wow, I can’t believe we’re not hearing more about him.” Soon he’ll be on all the big shows, his sales will spike, and you’ll be able to tell your friends you heard him here first. Go out and get The Origin. It is an infinitely rewarding album.