Phil King released his latest album on 15 April with an exclusive launch event at St George’s on 13 April, featuring a full band. ‘The Wreckage’ is the follow up to Phil’s previous record, ‘They Come and They Go’.
Phil has one of those voices that will lull you into a comforting cocoon of contentment. With enough soul to run circles around Antony and the Johnsons, intricate and heartfelt arrangements reflective of Damon Gough of Badly Drawn Boy and a steadfast bass line keeping things in check, it’s the kind of music you will turn to in years to come, when needing to reconnect and centre yourself.
His songs soar with layered arrangements, and a string section that will literally give you goosebumps. Guitar work reminiscent of the more upbeat moments from the likes of Midlake and Noah and the Whale, and conclusive endings – this is music created out of the very depths of consciousness.
“I always have a notebook with me, and jot down stuff that interests me. Quotes from novels, films, or songs. A line or even just a word will attach itself to the guitar music I am working with and I have to try and make the song grow from that point outwards. Sometimes it comes easily, and sometimes its like pulling teeth. Some of the songs on this album took me over a year to finish, but they were worth it.” Phil explains.
“There are certain singers that will send shivers down my spine and make me shed a tear every time.”
Growing up listening to the likes of Eric Clapton, Phil immediately felt an affinity for the live music experience, when attending an Eric Clapton show at the Royal Albert Hall with his parents as a 12 year old. This moment would change everything for him:
“I remember asking if I could learn guitar whilst we were still in the car on the way home. Through Clapton I discovered all these amazing old American blues artists that he used to cover, and got pretty obsessed. People like Muddy Waters, BB King, Ray Charles and Robert Johnson. I remember listening to Robert Johnson over and over, driving my brother nuts!” Phil recalls.
Since that day, Phil has dedicated his life to singing and guitar playing. He formed several bands while at school, including the college jazz band. Bob Harris on BBC Radio 2 has heralded Phil’s music over the years and Phil’s own influences, ranging from JJ Cale to Nick Cave, Gillian Welch and Brighteyes inevitably can be heard within his own songwriting.
There are livelier moments within Phil’s performances, including ‘Give Me Some More’ which literally will have you dancing in the aisles. Phil’s energy is infectious. Admittedly, he is more motivated by the emotive qualities of the stories he wishes to express:
“I think mainly of the emotion I want to convey, the character of the song, and the craft of it. The way it feels to play and sing. I don’t really think about telling stories, more describing states.” Phil explains.
“When Bob Harris described me as a ‘Song Weaver’ on Radio 2, that felt pretty good.”
Phil’s latest and third album, ‘The Wreckage’ was recorded at Real World Studios as one, live take – in doing so, the band hoped to replicate the full emotion of the live experience as opposed to manipulating the final sound.
“I chose to do it that way because I wanted to get as much emotion into the performance as I could and for the band to really sound like we were all playing together. So it isn’t perfect at all, some of its quite rough and ready, but I’m more than happy with that compromise. It is a very special feeling playing live when the audience is with you. It can really inspire a performance.” Phil says.
Having honed his craft through playing covers of his favourite artists, Phil has covered the likes of Bill Withers and Al Green, but always prefers to cover the lesser known, more obscure musicians. Some of which will be played live at the album launch on the 13 April at St George’s. Phil’s band will include Matt Jones on drums, David Johnston on bass, Ruth Hammond on organ, James Forster on guitar and Benji Bower on piano.
“Other people have covered my songs before too, which is a very lovely compliment. If I could choose, I’d like to hear how Laura Marling would play one of my songs.” Phil says.
Phil King: www.phil-king.net
Images: Charlene Lim