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Phil Roy

ISSUES + OPTIONS (Or) • Phil Roy

This guy blows my mind, he's global. The beauty and power of "Hope in a Hopeless World" is breathtaking. It's right up there with the great work of Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye, classic.

No other songwriter without major label support is doing what he's doing. He's hitting the Top Ten lists of the New York Times and trend-setting WXPN in Philly, KFOG in San Francisco, and satellite XM radio, too.

We interviewed Phil a couple of years ago, when he was named the Independent Artist of the Year by Musician's Atlas. He's already been through the corporate mill, having spent many years in L.A. as a big staff writer with some notable cuts (Ray Charles, Aaron Neville, Joe Cocker) who decided it was time to make his own records instead of trying to race the competition to the next 'NSync hit. After releasing Grouchyfriendly on his own in 2000, he seems to have found a new resonant home at Manhattan's Or records.

The opening measure of Issues and Options puts you right in the middle of the room where this music is coming from. Nylon string guitar, chromatic harmonica, upright bass, percussion, and voice near whispering:

I got a feelin somethin's wrong
I got a feelin somethin's very wrong
I smell trouble in the air
I sense things that were never here before

And the atmosphere sets up, and pulls you in to the intimacy and the gravity of the conversation. Phil works with incredible and unusual musicians, decidedly not the same ones everybody else is using. The guitar artistry of Heitor Pereira and Ricardo Silveira and the upright bass of co-producer John Leftwich are the most indispensable supporting elements, though more artists appear, in a number of locations, including a tune with Ray Bonneville. Phil is definitely a person's person and a team player, co-writing all the tunes (including a very good one with his friend Nicholas Cage, "Melt"), giving a lot of composed space to the instrumentalists, and always lyrically centering on the human condition.

Phil's got big things going on, he just appeared on national TV on The Early Show on CBS and played a show at the Lincoln Center in NYC as part of their American Songbook Series. In case you've not yet heard this compelling and important songwriter, we bid you go directly to the Listen page, check him out, and buy it, here. • FG

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our interview with phil (4/2002)

philroy.com     ormusic.com

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