Monday, 5 March 2012

Phil Abernethy - Lovely, Dark & Deep


24 year old Phil Abernethy notes Daniel Johnston among his four favourites Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. Can he reach the high notes like Daniel Johnston? No.. Can he write songs like Bob Dylan? No.. but it's not bad for somebody from Norwich. This is of course, a folk album In it's primitive form with a capo, sennheiser headphones and a batch of 15 songs ready to record.

It's not the most raw, passionate, beautiful, textured, progressive folk album out there, but it's got personality. Phil doesn't have the widest of vocal ranges, but his 'sweet' vocals allow him to read his songs alike Tom Waits, Springsteen, Cohen etc. Are these based on real events? I have absolutely no idea, I'm sure we can catch up with Phil and ask him the questions, but I don't think he'll reveal publicly his deep personal relationships. 'Whisper In The Wind' opens the album ans it's also his most played song (on Last.fm anyway). It has a 'lovely' structure and the vocals sound desperate. I'm not getting off over this song, but I'm enjoying it. It's in fingerpicking style and the raised chorus sticks out as one of the better segments lyrically on the album. He sings: "Night and day I've got nothing to do, I wish I never fallen in love with you" / "I know that you can hear me sing, so I whisper your name in the wind". He has layered vocals and 'Pretty Little Head' features some nice electric guitar segments and areas of vocal layers. The vocals sound very plain here, but that is the style this album has, it's simple.

'Without Memory' has a lovely little guitar riff which is repeated throughout the track. This track has some memorable lyrics, but the focus is on the guitar riff. 'Songs of Goodbye' has some extended instrumentation, but it doesn't standout. The vocals are pretty poor here but the actual lyrical content outweighs the actual vocal. He cant reach the high notes and to be honest, he shouldn't try. 'I Dream' has a Daniel Johnston-esque vibe to it. The 'childlike' vocals work perfectly with the uplifting guitar riff. Again we hear fingerpicking at a respectable tempo, but the progression isn't going anywhere. The lyrics are again a real focus, with the chorus of "I dream", being a vocal drone with layers and some keyboard additions.

Some highlights include 'Beautiful Rose', which is a lovely songwriter track which tells the story of meeting girls of 'summer' names and then singing about what they were like. It's a lovely track with a big emphasis on the 'love'. He knows how to write a decent track and Beautiful Rose is pretty much the happiest and most uplifting track on the album. 'She's Still In Love With Him' is the grown up version to Beautiful Rose. Phil understand that there are girls who you may like, but you just like them.. Then there's girls you want. I think She's Still In Love With Him has some soulful features and much alike 'Punished For Love' is a depressive track based around love.

Bruce Springsteen plays his part on 'Roadside Dinner Jukebox'. The ethereal guitar work mixes well with the 50's themed United States of America track. His lyrics portray a hefty amount of imagery and the chord progression is a common one on this album, it's very saddening and the sound gives me the impression of hopelessness. If Phil has a backing band on this track, I'd rate it very highly. 'Sorry Everybody' feels different. It shows regret and past failures by Phil. He feels remorse and sings about being sorry for his previous ways. 'No Other Plans' is lighter and has some delicious swirling vocals in the background. His converse style of vocal fits just nicely here. This is the vocal I want to hear, the desperate, the sad and the personal. It's thought provoking and gives the listener deep insight into Phil's life.

'Little Light' sounds rushed but the guitar recording makes up for the vocal blunders. 'Got It So Wrong' is a delirious piano track. It's the closer and has that 'rejection' vibe which this album has carried for the past 40 minutes. it's interesting to hear Phil's take on life. I'd rather listen to the greats, but I can find a place for Phil Abernethy - Lovely, Dark & Deep among my 'home recording / unknown' section. 
~Eddie

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