Review:David Philips – The Rooftop Recordings

Posted on: Tuesday, Sep 13, 2011

David Philips Cover

“The Rooftop Recordings”
(Black & Tan Records – CD B&T 037)

It could just be that British ex-pat David Philips has recorded one of this year’s best albums – a recording so simple and laid back but full of engaging gentle songs, lyrics and both musically and vocally superb. Philips lives in a rooftop apartment in a block of flats in Barcelona . . . he works out his songs on his balcony and when he came around to recording them he just set up a few microphones in the adjacent room and captured them in one take with no overdubs at all!

This, his second album, is on the Dutch blues label, Black & Tan and the 11 songs (and one reprise) sees Philips on occasional harmonica and various guitars . . . conventional six-string, three-string cigar box, four-string ukele and lap style Dobro . . . he’s a fine, clean picker, but this is maybe eclipsed by his beguiling voice, which is warm and rich. The self-penned collections dips into the blues occasionally but are mostly in a rootsy, folky vein.

In “You Didn’t Make Me” he could well have written an absolute classic . . . a tale of platonic love which turns to more, with him eventually losing the girl to another . . . quite beautiful and my favourite here. . . . a melodic gem, as is the equally fine “Raised In The North” . . . a tale of travel and relocation, but with a sad little refrain to it. The folky “Kind Stranger” has an almost traditional feel to it, complete with some delightfully intricate picked guitar and passionate vocal.

“South East Breeze” could well be dedicated to his adopted city of Barcelona as he writes and plays on his balcony under the Spanish sky, with only the breeze stopping him from moving on elsewhere . . . however, it’s another lovely tune amongst an album full of them. He gets into a country blues feel on the foot stomping “Tied Up, Gagged And Bound”, with a tasteful guitar motif and the vocal here exquisite. “Mountain To Climb” again shows of his guitar dexterity with more top picking, and some lusty harmonica to accompany it.

Having lived with this on my little mp3 player while on holiday for two weeks, I can safely say it was played more than anything else on it . . . in my humble opinion a great album and definitely well worth checking out . . . and kudos to Jan Mittendorp at Black & Tan Records for putting it out!


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