Zach Phillips

REVIEW: Zach Phillips “Goddaughters”

Reviews

Zach Phillips – Goddaughters

What if you could take the dynamics of progressive rock & marry it smoothly with Americana? You’d have an intense melodic mix of instrumental muscle. Most Americana has strength, but this is muscular in how it’s produced, performed & realized.

At first, I didn’t think this would qualify as roots music. As I listened it unfolded like a Japanese fan of many colors. The intro “Cassiopeia/Worshippers,” is like tasting whiskey that’s single barrel aged 10 years or more. The music is balanced & the approach: is fascinating.

Zach Phillips

12-cuts at 41 minutes decorate this well-made collection of significant songs on Goddaughters (Digital release in August/CD released in Nov/Independent). Produced by Gregg Montante (bass/drums/string arrangements/lead guitars/faux slide guitars) & Zach the ambiance & atmosphere are laid down imaginatively.

On “Harmony Grove,” the guitars chime like The Byrds but mixed generously in a Pink Floyd shaker. It’s exciting to listen to. What’s amazing it gets your toes to tap like a good dance song. It maintains a country edge drizzled with progressive rock cream & whipped.

In the 70s, Andy Roberts toyed with such music as “Applecross,” “Queen of the Moonlit World,” & “Trouble at the Mill.” Then, Phillip Goodhand-Tait (“Back In the Asylum”) & keyboardist Michael Perlitch (“Holy Joe”) dabbled in it as well.

But San Diego’s Zach Phillips (vocals/electric, acoustic rhythm & lead guitars/organs/pianos/keyboards & mandolins) is refreshing. He brings sensibility & continuity & gets the feelings down with a tough center. He has a similar tonality as alt-country singer Robert Ellis Orrall (“Tell Me If It Hurts”) & I admit that country purists may not bend to all of Zach’s songs. But I’d take this over country pop. This has substance.

“Curses,” is imaginative. It’s clearly audible in a progressive-alt-country manner where Zach’s voice is deeply haunting & refined. The lyrics are superb, well-thought-out & poetic. They burrow into the melodic lines like rain soaks into the dirt.

Phillips doesn’t seem to be concerned with upsetting the structure of the genre. He takes his chances & generally succeeds. This is Zach’s 4th CD & he furthers the richness of music that you would think has emptied its magazine of wonderful tunes. Not true. Ballad-wise “The Hour When I First Believed,” proves Zach can imbue a tune with feeling & cruise through with a slide guitar sweetness. This is a CD that provides something new without compromising tradition. Excellent showcase.

Joining Zach & Gregg is Bobby Cressey (organs/pianos). Highlights – “Cassiopeia/Worshippers,” “Harmony Grove,” “Psychics,” “Goddaughters,” “The Hour When I First Believed,” “Courtesy of a True God,” “The Big Mountain” & the excellent “Ocean of Song.”

B&W image courtesy of Zach Phillips CD/website. CD @ https://zachphillips1.bandcamp.com/album/goddaughters & https://zachphillips.com/

 

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