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Phil KingPhil King
Album: The Wreckage
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 9

I keep coming across press handouts that say something like "this is X's third album… the first two being exceptionally well received" - and that for west-country-based singer-songwriter Phil King's new record The Wreckage is the latest instance. I've not heard either of its predecessors, but there's certainly a healthy degree of third-album-level assurance about this new product, an easy creativity and a sureness of direction, that's both appealing and accessible in a radio-friendly way yet without lacking in substance.

The album was recorded at RealWorld studios, in tandem with Phil's able support band, whose members possess the sensitivity to keep reined back and in the service of Phil and his songs. These are couched in the simple language of truth, with no pretensions or literary indulgences, and matched by musical settings of comparable simplicity and straightforwardness, acoustic-based but with a kick and rhythmic drive where needed.

There's a warmth of delivery and sound that coheres with the sincere sentiments of Phil's songs, and the whole is as refreshing as it is companionable. I feel that the most impact is made by those songs with the more restrained settings, such as the delicate title song, the extended waltzer Poison Blue and opening cut Sicily, where strength of melody is as much a deciding factor as the memorability of the lyrics. The tumbling uptempo numbers such as Stronger and Do Not Surrender feel rather less distinguished by comparison. Elsewhere, Dylan, early Knopfler, country-rock and the peaceful easy feeling of the Eagles are all invoked, and the presence of pedal steel on several numbers reinforces that classic feel.

Overall, it's the gently soaring intimacy of songs like those mentioned above, the regretful I Wonder If I Will Ever Learn and closer You Know Where To Find Me, wherein would appear to lie Phil's strongest suit.

David Kidman