Album Review of Zach Phillips: The Wine of Youth
I’ve reviewed a lot of hard rock lately, so here’s a little balance for you. Zach Phillips is a soft rock singer-songwriter of exceptional talent, delivering in The Wine of Youth a well-constructed songs and pleasant melodies delivered with his warm, welcoming voice. Its laid-back soft rock style incorporates healthy doses of soft Americana, more energetic roots rock and perhaps a hint of folk to create Zach’s unassumingly original sound.
Sometimes, as on “Spirits Rising from the Lake,” there’s a clear ’70s rock flavor to Zach’s music, maybe even a more modern Tom Petty flavor. It’s hard to place, exactly, since this song – most on this disc, in fact – just move along so pleasantly I catch myself bobbing my head left and right, tapping my feet, and enjoying. I’m sure you will, too.
Other times, like on “Stars Fading Behind Clouds,” the guitar picking suggests folk – just an example of one of the places I’m getting that vibe. In this instance, there’s an open-spaces, western, Americana flavor, as well.
One of my favorite songs early on this disc, “Ladybird,” sports a different type of Americana flavor, with slide guitar (and the use of the word “magpie,” probably) giving it a down-home feel, though with a big, full sound like you might hear in a small-town concert hall.
“Cascadia” adds a little psychedelia – and much more volume – to Zach’s laid-back style. Then, next, as much as the power of “Cascadia” will shake you awake, “Stranded in the Sun” will let you drift off again. If you’re looking for the antidote to too much hard rock, this one of the recommended tracks, soft, meandering, and perhaps a little more thinly instrumented than most of the songs on this album. Introspective, as well, its deep thoughts conclude with “Please, would you take me as I am?”
Other songs worth noting are “Cemetery Girl,” with a guitar and vocal style that are darker, producing an almost alt-rock vibe on what’s still very clearly a soft Americana style; “Caroline”, with a plodding pace that belies the song’s engaging, emotional slow build to power; and “Hey, San Diego,” which is a cheerfully uptempo ditty that lightly twangs, an open love letter to the city of San Diego.
The title song, “The Wine of Youth,” closes the album gently and nostalgically, a soft landing for an album that’s an ideal, welcome respite when you’re looking for a little calmness.
In total, The Wine of Youth is a sharply-assembled, enjoyable, laid-back soft rock album with the depth and breadth of underlying influences to pleasantly allow repeated listens. It’s a great addition to a broad-based music collection. I dig this disc.