Music Review: Phillip Phillips – Elaborate Simplicity, Or Genuine Talent

August 21, 2015



Phillip Phillips: Behind The Light


Phillip Phillips’ career is all about momentum. First spike – American Idol. Second spike – the whole of his debut album. And now, another peak, with Behind The Light already a huge success and the touring of the collection adding new acolytes to his fanbase daily.

What’s notable early on is the authority with which Phillips performs. It helps that the opening quartet of Searchlight, Raging Fire, Trigger and Lead On are the equal of any pop tune released in the last year or two and that he sounds more than ever like Dave Matthews (that might be becoming an odious comparison for Phillips, but the perceived association in quality terms is more accurate than ever), but even with all of that in his favour, it’s unusual to hear any artist, and particularly one so young, sound as absolutely certain of his craft as Phillips does.

One of the results is that, beyond the appreciation; admiration, perhaps; of the songwriting, the melodies and the instant hooks, it’s possible, as a listener, to feel that the whole bang-shoot is genuine. That sounds massively cheesy, but Phillips is the sort of artist who can have you be willing to be derided for sounding a little gushy.

Part of that has to do with the elaborate simplicity of his writing: elaborate because there’s some great playing and singing here, with quick-fingered guitar licks, a nailed-down rhythm section and the sort of vocals you want to lean back and yell when you play this album very loudly.

There’s no fat in this collection – everything matters. And that’s saying a lot for an tracklist that involves the title Armless Crawler…


Searchlight                                                     8.00

Raging Fire                                                     7.75

Trigger                                                           7.50

Lead On                                                         7.75

Alive Again                                                    7.00

Open Your Eyes                                             7.75

Fool For You                                                  8.00

Thicket                                                           7.50

Fly                                                                  6.75

Unpack Your Heart                                        6.00

Face                                                               7.00

Midnight Sun                                                6.50

My Boy                                                          7.00

Don’t Trust Me                                              7.75

Armless Crawler                                            7.00


Rating: 7.283