Three is a really eclectic and interesting album release. The music often has the energy and enthusiasm of dance or funk, but the lyrics and the melodies have the dynamic depth and reality of folk and rock, which makes for a really fresh and fantastic hour of sound.
Broken is a track that stands out in many ways. Melodically, it has the brilliance of any great and memorable song. Lyrically, it has feeling and substance, and instrumentally – it has this crisp yet slightly experimental edge outside of what could otherwise have simply fallen into the pop-rock category. This alternative route has led to an undeniably original sound.
The guitar part for Broken is beautiful, as is the vocal performance, and from the offset the song presents you with a very soulful wave of emotion. The hook is fantastic, the chorus of voices accompanying this section really build up the effect even more so – as does the beat that suddenly kicks into action. The song is brilliant. The creative play used throughout to emphasise the various elements is incredible. It’s something of an adventure to listen to, a song you’ll struggle to simply hear once. Plus, Phil Whiteley’s vocal performance and the added vocal snippets throughout really drive the feeling of the song forward with great strength.
Got Nothin is another one that really stands out from the crowd. It’s a striking piece of music, once again creatively experimental so as to really grab your attention, and still that classic Phil Whiteley vocal soul and melodic genius shines as brightly as ever, so everything just works, appeals, and entertains. When you consider this one alongside a track such as I Can’t Breathe, the variation within the project seems immense, though it’s really only in terms of the instrumentation. If you were to hear these same songs performed just with a voice and a guitar, you’d recognize and enjoy them regardless, and the thread would be crystal clear. In this case, you actually get a much more interesting experience – the thought and effort that has gone into crafting these recordings is huge, and it was more than worth the while.
I Can’t Breathe leaves you thinking you’ve just heard an early eighties mega hit for the very first time. Occasionally a slight Stevie Wonder sound is evident, other times a more pop-esque angle shines and memories of George Michael make a brief appearance. It’s a wonderful array of influences that crop up throughout the album, but what this really does is lead you to appreciate that there is no strict category for great songs – these melodies and ideas can now transcend genres and be played in any number of settings, with any number of instruments or band members involved. Or even just, as mentioned, the artist himself and a single acoustic instrument.
One thing that’s for certain is that Phil Whiteley has a skill for crafting melodies that drench you in soul, whilst simultaneously making sure you remember them long after the songs have finished. The melodies in some cases have a vintage funk and soul swagger to them, not dissimilar to the likes of Jamiroquai. The song Connect is a good example, it has a brilliant flow to it, with exciting instrumentation all around, and, as always, the artist’s leading vocal really drives the whole sound and concept forwards with great passion and style.
Civilized Man seems to switch things up a notch, or down slightly – depending on how you look at it. The song brings a sense of darkness to the table, musically, and in terms of the effects and the general ambiance exuded. It’s not an overwhelming darkness, it still very much brings forth those funky, melodic vibes of Three’s overall sound, but there’s a cloud of mystery to this one. There’s even an electronic or trance-like element to the song. It’s very easy to find yourself drifting off entirely as it plays, the atmosphere and the way it’s been structured to build and change and evolve; everything about it really draws your mind off into wonderland.
Let It Go is beautiful. The mellow beat and the minimal yet dreamlike use of synths and keys really lets the melody and the singing stand strong under the spotlight, so you can listen intently to the words, and really lose yourself to the essence of the song. It’s a valuable concept, particularly for a world or society so often soaked in anxiety. The music reflects the idea of letting go amazingly well. It’s a smooth sounding work of art, and effectively placed within the collection to truly compliment everything surrounding it. No Love is it’s polar opposite in a way, the soulful sounds burst into an indie rock extravaganza for the hook section, out of blue, and into the heart of emotion – instrumentation and production again really lighting up those feelings with perfect accuracy and relevance.
The project in it’s entirety features a superb collection of songs and could easily pass for a greatest hits collection under different circumstances. There’s not a wasted moment, nothing has been included to simply fill a gap, it’s all top quality songwriting and performance, with a crisp and upbeat production style to really polish off those edges. Closing track What Would You Do really opens up your mind with it’s thought provoking lyricism and that familiar musical ambiance that envelops you in such great space.
Three makes for a gorgeously unique listening experience. Download Phil Whiteley’s projects The One, Two, and Three over at CDBaby.