Melissa Phillips – Fits & Starts (Independent)
Melissa Phillips debut EP was recorded live to tape, over two days, without overdubs or auto tune. It’s probably best that no one mentions to Simon Cowell that proper, talented musicians are making records like this, though he probably wont believe it. There, not our problem.
Recorded with the assistance of James DePrato (guitar, mandolin, dobro, banjo, harmonies), Max Delaney (guitar), Danilo Lopez (percussion and harmonies) and Kevin White (bass), Phillips has fashioned a six track collection that maybe a little loose at the edges, but more than compensates with strong songs and a band that thrives under the pressure of live recording.
There’s urgency to their playing which perfectly suits Phillips’ songs. Mostly alt. country and folk in nature, she’s a songwriter with plenty to say and with the talent to convey a story without breaking her musical flow. Beginning with the vivacious “Centralia”, the quintet sound fully rehearsed and raring to let loose – they don’t disappoint. Both Phillips and her band drive the track home, and it sets them up for the remaining five songs. Other standouts include the percussion-heavy title track, and the rolling paean to youthful endeavour “So Young”.