January 18, 2018 Phillip Phillips – Collateral (Album Review)
A talented musician winning American Idol is much like a unicorn: sure, its rainbow-y goodness could exist, but no one has any proof that such a creature is even possible. Phillip Phillips, therefore, would be a mythical creature of sorts: a truly exceptional musician who took on the beast and won. Season 11 of American Idol, that is. Of course, that’s all old news. The latest in the world of Mr. Phillips would be Collateral, which arrives January 19, 2018, thanks to Interscope Records.
As noted, Phillip Phillips is likely best known for his winning stint on American Idol. A superbly talented Singer-Songwriter-Guitarist who hails from Georgia, Phillips began strumming a guitar at the age of 14 and the rest is delicious history for the ears. With a little bit of time and, sure, some practice, Phillips began crafting his own blend of Pop and Folk, creating a sincere sound that was quick to win over the hearts of America. On the eve of his win in 2012, his debut single, “Home,” became the all-time best-selling song from an Idol. Quick to place his stamp onto plastic, this Georgia boy would go on to release his debut album, The World from the Side of the Moon, in 2012, before following it up with his sophomore release, 2014’s Behind the Light. What followed was touring with the likes of John Mayer, Matchbox Twenty, O.A.R., Goo Goo Dolls, Matt Nathanson, and A Great Big World; as well as multiple accolades and the love of many fans around this great, big world.
Now with four years time between albums to hone his craft, Phillip Phillips is prepared to return for round three with the twelve-song Collateral. Of course, lest you believe that the past few years have been all sunshine and roses, Phillips has a few things to say about his time away from the spotlight, which, in case you didn’t know, involved a wedding as well as a lawsuit with his former management. “There’s been a lot of heartbreak and frustration for me over the past few years, but there’s also been so much joy and love,” he explains. “All these different emotions ended up coming out in the new songs, and I kept coming back to the idea of good and bad happening right alongside each other.”
To create an album that faithfully blends love and frustration, Phillips joined forces with an eclectic lineup of producers that includes Grammy Award-winner Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson), Ryan Hadlock (Ra Ra Riot, Cayucas), and Nathan Chapman (Lady Antebellum, Taylor Swift). The end result being twelve songs that blend bluesy grit alongside soulful sincerity, charming love songs with groovy stompers, and all of it done in that straightforward Pop/Folk blend that fans have come to love from this Georgian.
A delicious aperitif that invites the listener into Collateral, the bluesy blend of “Magnetic” incorporates trumpet alongside Phillips’ matured, fine wine vocals. It steps perfectly into the acoustic “Part of My Plan,” a sincere confession of love that is exactly what one would expect from this delicate songwriter, while funky “My Name” experiments with the sensual, electric grooves of the ’70s and ’80s.
The snuggly goodness of “I Dare You” is a bluesy jam that pleads for trust in a seriously doubting world, while promising the stars to a special lady. With its conclusion, Phillips turns toward ominous sounds and dark story-telling with “Sand Castles,” a meandering offer that displays some truly gorgeous strings and discusses the dichotomies inherent in life.
Amping the mood back toward hip-shaking sassiness, “Don’t Tell Me” is a funktastic little ditty that is a catchy warning not to taunt Mr. Phillips tonight. Perhaps his subject has respect to his call for heed, because successor “Miles” feels celebratory, triumphant in rising above it all alongside the one you love. Whatever the case, it’s clearly all good with the touchingly intimate, acoustic-driven “Dance One More With Me,” another celebration of love. Written for Phillips’ 2015 wedding to his long-time girlfriend Hannah Blackwell, the track was co-written with friend Tim Bruns – who performed the offering at the couples’ wedding during their first dance as husband and wife.
The groovy stomper “Love Junkie” goes low in the name of addiction, because we’re all junkies for someone else, right? It dips its pretty little toes then bows its head for the acoustic-driven “Her Majesty,” perhaps the most traditional Phillips’ offering in the collection. Hauntingly beautiful, emotional “What Will Become of Us” is a collection of glittering acoustics and cello that flows flawlessly into the massive sound of “Into The Wild,” a stunning send-off for a poignant and wonderfully executed collection.
It is clear to see that Phillip Phillips is lucky in love and that translates to an album full of intimate dances, sincere moments, and that always stellar musicianship. On Collateral, he takes some chances and steps beyond his largely acoustic-driven comfort zones, producing some truly compelling material and proving that the boy has talent, oh, such talent. If you’re one of those streaming folks, definitely check-out “Magnetic,” “Don’t Tell Me,” “What Will Become of Us,” and “Into The Wild.” If you still appreciate the art behind a good record, well, this is an excellent one to add to your collection! Full of Pop sensibilities alongside the honest integrity of Folk, with a pinch of Bluesy grit, CrypticRock give Phillip Phillips’ Collateral 4 of 5 stars.