I have loved Phil Roy's music since I first heard "Melt" on WFUV in New York, seven years ago. My admiration was only increased after buying his first record, Grouchy Friendly, and watching him perform at the late, lamented Bottom Line in NYC. It was seeing Roy live that helped resolve some of the mystery as to why exactly I liked this music; in most other singer/songwriters lyrics like his--full of affirmations, truisms, and spiritual homilies--would rub me the wrong way. But seated before me on stage was no downy-faced youth whose up-with-people lyrics were a product of either zero introspection or advanced irony (see: Polyphonic Spree). Here was a grizzled, mature adult, a Philadelphian who had weathered the vicissitudes of life in La-La land and come out the other side with the considered attitude that only positivism can save us. This is what makes songs on The Great Longing, with titles like "I Love Everyone," "Busy Thinkin' Bout Today," and "Day To Day Thing," palatable rather than irritating.
What makes them great is another story.
The Great Longing is special because it possesses the same qualities that keep Grouchy Friendly and Roy's second record, Issues + Options, in steady rotation on my iPod. First you have the soul that suffuses both the grooves and Roy's understated but brilliant singing. Then there are the spectacular harmonic twists and turns that sneak into the songs, such as the Stevie Wonder-like chromaticism of the bridge on "I Love Everyone," as well as the inventive verse chords of "Busy Thinkin' Bout Today." That tune too recalls Stevie--just replace the acoustic guitar with clavinet and it could be right off of Talking Book.
Rather than spending time crafting clever turns of phrase, Phil Roy sings straight from a bruised but powerful heart, and devotes his talents to crafting music that supports his feelings and sends them home. As with Tom Waits singing "There's A Place For Us," or Waylon Jennings singing "You Ask Me to," you hear Phil Roy and think, "If this craggy, experienced fellow can unabashedly have these feelings, then dammit so can I." His combination of sophisticated music, soulful performance, and simple, truthful lyrics is hard to beat. • Michael Ross
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[*Special Puremusic.com offer* In conjunction with the artist, we are offering our readers the opportunity to buy the "Limited Edtion" of The Great Longing directly from Phil Roy for the outstanding price of $10, shipping included, before its official Sept. 25th US release on the Decca /Universal label! Here's how:
1. Go to www.philroy.com/products and click on BUY FROM PHIL ROY DIRECT!!!
2. Make your order, and when you get to "Special Instructions," mention the Puremusic discount. Your credit card will be charged only after the price deduction is made.
Note: For orders shipped outside the United States, a $5.00 shipping charge will be added to this special puremusic.com $10.00 CD offer.]