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A Singin' And A Songwritin'

Patrick Phelan
Songs Of Patrick Phelan

Patrick Phelan is not only a member of the group South, but he's a pretty decent solo artist as well. Working sort of a pop/rock edge with songs that swing back and forth from more depressing, minimally instrumentated numbers to works that have a bit of jazz or even country influence going on, this semi-self titled batch of tracks should be satisfying to those who like stripped-down singer/songwriter work.

The album actually opens with the longest track on the release, clocking in at almost eight and a half minutes. It's stripped down to nothing but acoustic guitars (sometimes two picked in harmony) and very very minimal touches of organ for instrumentation to back Phelans light vocals. The second half of the track is actually just sort of an instrumental acoustic drone out, with the organ increasing in volume and the guitars weaving in and out. By the time it's over, it's almost a bit too long, but the second song "Midwest" doesn't exactly add any punch to things. While it starts out with an acoustic guitar again, it slowly builds up into something slightly more with a piano and violin, but still keeps a very melancholic feel both in instrumentation and lyrical content.

The third track is where things sort of pick up with a touch of jazz influence. With a cornet providing some nice flourishes of brass, the guitars and percussion feels more lively on its feet and Phelan's vocals have more than a passing resemblence to work by Sam Prekop. It's a great little track, though, and although the lyrics still aren't exactly upbeat, the track moves along with a gentle sway that lifts the album out of drear mode for awhile. That sound continues on the fourth track, on which a trapset by Bryan Hoffa makes an appearence and gives the track a bit more of a backbone and turns into into simply a great pop/rock track.

The theme of cold continues on the track "Ice Storm" and it's another spare number with guitars and vocal that again convey more of a desolate mood, but the album still manages to keep things fairly mixed up for the remainder, including some nice lap steel on the bleak "Landlocked" and the almost outright rock of "A Moment A Broken." Phelan shows that he not only has a knack for songwriting, but can pull off several different styles as well (although nothing on the album is exactly upbeat). Fans of Pedro The Lion and other singer/songwriters would probably find many things to like in the release, or people who wish Prekop didn't sound so breezy.

Rating: 7.25