Phil's songs are a powerful combination of immediacy and slow-burning subtlety. Their melodies instantly take up residence in the mind while the lyrics pack a considerable emotional punch. This is set off to great effect by Phil's line in dry, laconic humour which accompanies the live show. The songs and lyrics are masterpieces of succinctness – all coming in around the three minute mark – and seem to work effortlessly on several levels, belying the craftsmanship that has gone into their making. Phil is not only a fine musician but also a writer steeped in the poetic traditions of Robert Lowell and Langston Hughes. The result is a brilliant intertwining of Americana, Celtic, folk and blues themes in distinctive original songs. Like all the best songwriters, Phil has created his own genre, where Harlem nights and New York cityscapes rub shoulders with the West coast of Ireland and scenes from Werner Herzog's films, and none of them seems out of place.
Phil is joined on stage by a group of musicians drawn together by the quality of his writing. The band features luminaries of the Midlands acoustic scene: Steve Benford (Big Jig, Alamootie) – acoustic guitar, banjo, vocals; Mark Walker (Tangata, Cliff Brown Band) – fretless bass, vocals; Frank McCarthy (Ali and the Cats) – electric guitar, vocals; and Pippa Marland (Carmina) – saxophones, Irish whistles, vocals. All feature on the new CD.
The band went down a storm at their Southwell Folk Festival debut and will be appearing over the coming months at festivals and folk clubs around the country. The new album looks set to reach a new audience for the band. Phil is undoubtedly one of the finest songwriters working on the acoustic scene today.