Review: David Philips – December Wine (4 track tapes)

Posted on: Thursday, Mar 14, 2013

B&T 038 front cover.jpg

David Philips – December Wine (4 track tapes)

(Black & Tan Records: CD B&T 038)

It’s fair to say that for me the ‘soundtrack of the summer’ back in 2011 was undoubtedly David Philips’ marvellous last release “The Rooftop Recordings” . . . a quite beautiful set of songs recorded in his apartment in Barcelona with the doors and windows flung open . . . I’m pleased to report that the follow-up from the English ‘ex-pat’ has arrived in the form of the equally enthralling “December Wine (4 track tapes)”.

Again, like its predecessor, this is a joy from start to finish – a 13-track self-penned and played set of songs, crossing over from folk to blues and more from this most brilliant songwriter and musician. The tunes were recorded on to a 4-track cassette recorder, using the classic TDK SA C90 tapes . . . always my favourite back in the day . . . and intended as demos. However Philips sent them off to Black & Tan boss Jan Mittendorp who thought the recordings were something special and agreed to release them.

Really, their is not a weak link on the album . . . starting in delightful manner with the two part, “A Sailor’s Intro”, featuring his delicate fingerpicked acoustic guitar, and the main part, “A Sailor’s Song” – you soon become entranced by his beguiling warm voice; the sparse ballad “All Is Lost” follows, and it’s another beauty. The hypnotic “Big Things” has a Middle East flavour to it with Philips voice treated on top of swirling layers of sound.

“Waiting On The Rain” is complete with more lovely guitar work, giving it a sort of North African ‘desert blues’ sound; whilst “Who’s Going To Save This Town” is also inspired by the sounds of the African continent, with some driving guitar and more inspired fingerpicking wrapped around another brilliant vocal. The bluesy stroll of “Lonely” sees Philips adding some drums to his guitar and vocals as well as some ‘workmanlike’ harmonica . . . a talented all-rounder to be sure!

The title cut, “December Wine” is another blues tune, with some foot stomping, hand clapping and more, filling out the solo performance, and needless to say, more top guitar and vocals . . . indeed the multi-layered voice here is very effective. The toughest performance here is the electric ‘down home’ blues of “Link In The Chain”, evoking the North Mississippi hill country blues, driven by a dirty riff that I’m sure is a killer live! This great album closes with the instrumental “Flamingo (improv.) . . . a Spanish flavoured guitar number with a background of what sounds like a trickling fountain . . . a beautiful end indeed.

David Philips is out and about all over Europe at the moment, it’s only in his native UK that gigs seem thin on the ground . . . come on promoters get to it please, this guy is a major talent.

GRAHAME RHODES

www.davidphilips.net

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