Cameron Black

REVIEW: Phillip Phillips – ‘The World From the Side of the Moon’

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Phillip Phillips, recent winner of Season 11 of American Idol, is set to release his debut album, The World From the Side of the Moon, on November 19th. Phillips combines his impressive vocal presence with an array of backup instrumentation to arrange some fantastic songs full of great music and poignant messages.

“Man on the Moon” catches your attention immediately with a twangy southern guitar. Overall, the song features Phillips’s vocal range, and really accents the rugged tone that he sings with. Featuring a banjo, violin, and saxophone solo, the song has a classic country feel to it. I would really like to hear this song played live.

“Home” starts with some upbeat guitar picking and features some great harmonies to back up Phillips’s powerful voice. The song has a really positive message, “know you’re not alone, I’m gonna make this place your home.” I’m really happy to see bands today performing songs with messages of hope and comradery. The simplistic nature of this song, featuring drums, strumming guitar, and an impressive backup vocal section, will make this song undoubtedly successful to today’s happy soul.

“Gone, Gone, Gone” is a very sentimental song both vocally and in its musical arrangement. Phillips demonstrates his ability to evoke certain emotions in his listener by having this song build on itself with intense dynamics, a wide array of backup instrumentation, and a moving chorus featuring a brass section and spirituous backup vocals. I’m really impressed at the number of parts that were written into this song.

“Hold On” is another passionate song featuring dramatic rhythm changes and Phillips’s dynamic singing range. This song has a great groove to it, and is driven by a constant, simple kick drum. The contrast between the verses and chorus are what stand out in “Hold On”. It’s refreshing to hear so many instrumental breakdowns and featured non-vocal parts in these songs because it indicates that not only is Phillip Phillips a talented singer, but he is a passionate musician, as well.

“Tell Me A Story” has a very Mumford & Sons feel to it in regards the timing and where Phillips sits in his vocals. The chorus accentuates his vocal range and sends him from a low, soothing tone to a higher, passionate tone. “Tell Me A Story” is a song you can get lost in.  It’s full of space, and while the song has a lot of parts to it, they all complement each other and fit together to provide a very reflective ambiance.

“Where We Came From” changes up the mood of the album. The song is full of a certain attitude from the start, with blues accents from the strings and guitar to give “Where We Came From” a distinct flavor. The chorus is surprisingly different from the verse, and changes the attitude set up in the beginning. While this song is catchy and the verse and chorus are well written, respectively, I felt the two juxtaposed into one song was a bit too much of a change for me.

“Drive Me” opens with a very rock attitude. Phillips is heavily present in the song with a husky sound to his voice and well-timed accents and spacing in his delivery. There is a battered tone to his voice that gives him a sound reminiscent of Dave Matthew’s Band, especially when there is a great sax solo and a full vocal & horn section to back it up, as is present in “Drive Me”.

“Wanted Is Love” has a laid back feel to it, but it is a song full of passion. The song transitions from verse to chorus very dramatically, and the lyrics reflect the sentiment made by the music. I really enjoyed the emotions this song was able to convey both lyrically and instrumentally.

“Can’t Go Wrong” would definitely go on my next “Road Trip songs” mix. The song is fun and emanates a very happy feeling. Lyrically, “Can’t Go Wrong” reflects on the great feeling of being alive, “I can’t go wrong, as long as I remember where I’m from”. Stylistically, the verse has a low key, but powerful drive to it, and the chorus is in your face, but in the best way possible (and will have you singing along with it by the end).

“A Fool’s Dance” emphasizes something unique about Phillip Phillip’s sound. He uses his voice as a real instrument, delivering lyrics with varied rhythms and tones to match the style of the music. The song has a very dramatic feel to it, but it is also very light, presenting a precise and fragile “dance” that we sometimes do in our lives.

“So Easy” is a low-key folk rock sounding love song with a pop-infused chorus. The song sums up the album nicely, ending with an energy charged song with an overall relaxed sound.

The World From the Side of the Moon is a fantastic debut album by any standards. Phillip Phillips will appeal to a wide variety of fans given his age, lyrical content, powerful vocal abilities, and extremely talented back up band. The album explores a Phillips’s ability to sing in different styles, and really tests his range. After listening to this album, I am extremely anxious to see what Phillip Phillips puts out in years to come.

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