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Behind the Light (Deluxe Version)

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Album Review

Phillip Phillips belongs to the second tier of American Idol success stories: not as a superstar, not like Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson, but as somebody who found a solid little niche. Phillips' sound is adult alternative by way of the Dave Matthews Band, an influence evident on both the show and his 2012 debut, The World from the Side of the Moon, and still prominent on his 2014 sophomore set, Behind the Light. Like his debut, Behind the Light is co-produced by Gregg Wattenberg — he can claim credits on Five for Fighting, David Cook, Backstreet Boys, and Ed Kowalczyk — but there's a difference here, namely how all involved decide to incorporate a heavy element of Mumford & Sons and Lumineers folk-stomp. It's a smooth, easy fit for Phillips, who is a troubadour at heart, a sensitive soul strumming his acoustic guitar, sounding sweet enough to withstand the kind of cinematic productions he's given here. Often, the bombast of the sound contradicts the simplicity of the singer, but his slippery cadences — he's never seemed more like Matthews as he slides in and out of verses — don't sound ill-suited to the onslaught of gloss; he's dexterous enough to make all the slickness feel natural, if not authentic. At times, the ease of his delivery gives Behind the Light a supercilious feeling — he's enjoying his delivery more than the content — but even if the record doesn't rely on expertly sculpted melodies (which it doesn't; the feel means more than the form), there's an open-hearted, warm atmosphere that gives Behind the Light resonance. Perhaps Phillips has yet to find his distinctive voice, but there's no question he can color within the lines exceedingly well. [A Deluxe Edition added three bonus tracks.]

Customer Reviews

Love Phillip

I love PP and I was so excited for this album but I feel that it is way overproduced and over-arranged. The arrangements for almost all of the songs are soo "busy" that is distracts me from his vocals and lyrics. I wish there were some songs with just him and a guitar. I don't know what the necessity is of having so many strings in the background of EVERY song. I just hope that Phillip gets some better advice on his next album as I'd like to see (and hear) him around for a long time.

Phillip is so talented

This man never fails to impress me. From what I've heard so far, this album is going to be a killer.

Mumford & Sons-esque... Doesn't fill the void though.

Let me preface this with saying that the man definitely is talented, and he knows who he is. However, there's a few things missing from his sound.

One, arguably the greatest aspects of this folk movement now-a-days is the abstract lyrics that come with the song. This is where, PP, although he really has a feel for the folksy rhythms and melodies that are really awesome, falls short. Either he's not writing all of his songs, leaving them to be written by other lyricists, making the lyrics impersonal and rather lackluster, or he's just not a very good lyric writer. As toe-tapping as the beat feels, the lyrics are typically able to be interpreted in one way, with not much else other than face-value. It's here where PP's cool, folksy sound starts to feel more poppy.

Two, what great bands such as Mumford & Sons and The Head and the Heart have going for them is the fact that they truly are a BAND. Their songs are a collaborative effort, and it shows in their sound. PP, who has developed an identity as a folk-pop singer, truly sounds as though it's merely, him, his guitar, and then a mishmash of thrown together instruments.

Of course, I have no place to talk because I don't have my own record deal, nor have I made money from doing what I love (yet, hopefully!). So, keep it up PP! You're doing better than all these people leaving hateful reviews!

Biography

Born: September 29, 1990 in Leesburg, GA

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '10s

The winner of the 11th season of Fox's American Idol, singer Phillip Phillips is a soulful vocalist with a throaty style and a bent toward mixing acoustic singer/songwriter material with jam-oriented rock. Born in Leesburg, Georgia, Phillips began studying music in his teens. He eventually formed a group with brother-in-law Benjamin Neil and began performing locally. During this time, he won first place in the local singing competition Albany Star in 2010. While attending school at Albany Technical...
Full Bio