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Page McConnell

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Album Review

It's a strange thing that when Phish members go solo they make simpler records that are more streamlined than any of their band's albums. These are records that are often better as albums than Phish's studio efforts, which often tended to meander and never quite gelled. Such is the case with Page McConnell, the Phish keyboardist whose eponymous 2007 solo debut is uncannily reminiscent of Trey Anastasio's eponymous 2002 solo debut even if it's different in many respects. What is similar between both albums is that they share a soft, hazy quality that brings to mind the laid-back vibe of Californian singer/songwriters of the '70s, but McConnell's album is more unified than Anastasio's. It also has more modern touches, like a turntable faintly scratching in the background on "Heavy Rotation" or the skittish drum-n-bass-inspired rhythm track of the closer, "Everyone But Me." Despite these flourishes, Page McConnell nevertheless sounds like a thowback to the late '70s, both in its warm, burnished production (courtesy of producer Bryce Goggin and engineer Jared Slomoff) but also in its mellow, mildly jazzy funkiness and how the songs easily open up for solos from McConnell and his band, anchored by veteran drummer Jim Keltner. This has such a relaxed vibe that even when McConnell sings about the murky menace of modern times, it sounds friendly; never have melting ice caps and stolen elections sounded less threatening than they do on "Maid Marian," delivered in Page's plain, conversational voice. Far from being a detriment, that relaxed vibe is what makes Page McConnell a satisfying listen. There's nothing rushed about this album, yet it doesn't wander; it all flows from the same unhurried place, and the keyboardist and his colleagues, who include guitarist Adam Zimmon plus all former Phish mates, find interesting ways to spin his soft, soul- and jazz-inflected tunes. Such low-key exploration, combined with some good modest tunes, makes for an endearing solo debut that finds McConnell forging a new, interesting path away from Phish.


Born: May 17, 1963 in Philadelphia, PA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Best known as the piano and keyboard player for Phish, Page McConnell was born May 17, 1963, in Philadelphia, PA, moving to Basking Ridge, NJ, in 1969 with his family. McConnell began piano lessons at the age of four and was playing in local bands by the time he was in the seventh grade. He attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX, from 1982 to 1984, and then transferred to Goddard College in Vermont, graduating in 1987. McConnell played with several area bands while at Goddard, including...
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Page McConnell, Page McConnell
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