Phil Cooper - Thoughts & Observations
They say most songs are written, in one way or another, about love; there are probably more written about the woes of love than the joys. So, what happens when the troughs of love and emotion even out, and a songwriter finds himself without those sorrows as a muse to write about? Thoughts & Observations is the third album from British singer-songwriter, Phil Cooper. An album that doesn’t contain a single track I don’t like, or at least am indifferent to is a rare thing these days - but this is one of them. It’s a brilliant album of uptempo, feel good classic guitar-driven folk pop in the vein of Crowded House and The Beatles with a touch of Brit pop a la Dodgy; at times it reminds meof R.E.M. and the Wonderstuff too. But for all that feel-good factor, this is no shallow happy go lucky record - there is plenty of food for thought in the lyrics and compositions. Phil says that having moved beyond the mournful songs driven by emotional struggles and the ever-twisting path of love, and finding himself more content in life he had to dig deeper for inspiration for his third long-player.That very double edged-sword of the songwriter is something Phil hints a ton Paradox as he sings “So why are we at our best, when we’re at our worst?.. The hurt we feel...We are the paradox that never ends”. The lyrics, then, cover topics as broad as political extremes, social media bubbles, and press media along side musings about life, hope and open-mindedness - but they are carefully crafted, accessible and memorable too. There’s an awful lot to like about this album, from start to finish. The melodies are hooky, and Phil delivers the vocals and guitars with a gentle, confident passion, backed ably by the
very solid and soulful ensemble of Ellis Cooper (bass and backing vocals), Jack Moore (drums and backing vocals), and Jamie R Hawkins (backing vocals). The layered, group harmony approach to backing vocals really shines throughout the album, and gives the tracks the warmth of a sunny late-spring afternoon. Here and there, subtle string and brass arrangements add variety to the mix. The lead track, Shake It Up, is infectiously catchy but is far from alone in having immediate appeal underlain with a depth of meaning that rewards the careful listener. Keep Something Inside, Road Songs, and Face Doesn’t Fit, for example, all stand out as potential radio singles. It’s not all upbeat foot stompers, though - there are more mellow and thoughtful acoustic-based tracks like Smokescreen, and Only A Song too. The album is beautifully arranged and produced - the songs are never too long and always leave you wanting more as they finish. For what it’s worth, listen all the way to the end and, in my humble opinion, you’re rewarded with the finest track, Everywhere I Go.This is the one that sticks in my head and won’t let go, and follows me around all day at work, loosening up my soul and inspiring me to think just a little bit differently about the things I do and say. Dreamy anthemic melodies, subtly droning guitar arrangements that gently build, and just lovely lyrics“There’s something that I’ve found. It’s not something you can see. But it’s here to help you breathe, in the morning air. It’s everywhere I go..”. Is it about love, God, neither or both? It doesn’t really matter - it’s an overwhelming positive and touching song that perfectly captures how meaningful the simplest things in life can be: “memories are made of the kindness of strangers; and it flows like a river running downhill, endless streams”. Togo back to the start - Phil may no longer have the woes of love to ache over, but as far as I am concerned, he’s nailed it with this finely crafted album of gentle, catchy, life affirming and thought-provoking tunes with a deeper meaning behind them. Tune in, and don’t look back - you won’t regret it. Highly recommended. Thoughts & Observations by Phil Cooper is available now in CD, Vinyl and digital formats, and thanks to his recent distribution deal with Discovery Records , the CD and vinyl will soon be available in every U.K. record store! Listen to the album in full via the BandCamp stream below. To find out more about Phil, read his interview on Setlist Music here or visit his Facebook.