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Phillips, Anthony: Strings Of Light

Don’t worry. Take your time, there’s no hurry. Anthony Phillips is in no rush, after all this is his first full new solo album for some seven years. Hence the supreme guitarist and gifted composer isn’t expecting you to wolf Strings Of Light down in one sitting and then ask for second helpings. After all, this album is some two discs and 24 tracks long, so settle in, get comfy and allow this patient, considered collection to lull and cajole as you get acquainted over time. And you will, for once the patient meander of “Castle Ruins” burrows into place it soon becomes a welcome companion, even if its story is one of wonder and introspection.

As is often the case with Phillips, Strings Of Light is lyric-less, although that doesn’t stop the lilt of “Pilgrims Of Grace” from having a story to tell, or the ability to share it. As is also often the case, Strings Of Light is proper, pure solo work, with Phillips operating alone and without any form of accompaniment as he allows his fingers and the strings they caress to convey the huge array of emotions laid bare. Often that can be bright, like the light of a new morning, as the rain begins to fall on “Skies Crying”, while through “Still Rain” the murk can also be beckoned in to dominate proceedings through a deep, thoughtful tone that envelopes you without ever becoming overbearing.

With the short - and by short we mean 20 seconds - “Into The Void” bringing an air of drama to the opening of disc two, the more exotic “Andean Explorer”, by contrast, feels almost like a show-dance of intensity and flourish. Impressively the twisting turns continue round every corner, “Sunset Riverbank” lazy, languid and luscious, almost shy and inward looking as its pinging guitar work pierces with an echo that is so delicate that you hold your breath for fear of shattering it. Comparisons here and elsewhere are, truth be told, unsurprising, with all of this album fitting comfortably alongside the vast array of excellent, guitar led Anthony Phillips releases he’s created throughout the years, while there’s also no denying that his final album with Genesis, 1970’s Trespass, still informs much of what goes into his current work.

With Cherry Red/Esoteric presenting Strings Of Light in an exquisite five panel digi-pack (although a booklet longer than four pages would have been nice) and also including a third disc collecting all this album’s songs together on DVD and presented in a 5.1 Surround Sound Mix which reveals further intrigue and nuance, thankfully the boat has been pushed out for this excellent release. More importantly, as Anthony Phillips heads towards his 68th birthday, he remains as inspired and as inspiring as ever, hence it’s no wonder that Strings Of Light shines just as brightly as it clearly does.


Track Listing
DISC ONE: CD
1. JOUR DE FÊTE
2. DIAMOND MEADOWS
3. CAPRICE IN THREE
4. CASTLE RUINS
5. MERMAIDS AND WINE MAIDENS
6. WINTER LIGHTS
7. SONG FOR ANDY
8. PILGRIMAGE OF GRACE
9. SKIES CRYING
10. MOUSE TRIP
11. RESTLESS HEART
12. STILL RAIN


DISC TWO CD
1. INTO THE VOID
2. ANDEAN EXPLORER
3. MYSTERY TALE
4. SUNSET RIVERBANK
5. TALE ENDER
6. SHORELINE
7. DAYS GONE BY
8. CRYSTALLINE
9. FLEUR-DE-LYS
10. GRAND TOUR
11. HOME ROAD
12. LIFE STORY


DISC THREE: DVD
1. JOUR DE FÊTE (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
2. DIAMOND MEADOWS (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
3. CAPRICE IN THREE (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
4. CASTLE RUINS (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
5. MERMAIDS AND WINE MAIDENS (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
6. WINTER LIGHTS (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
7. SONG FOR ANDY (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
8. PILGRIMAGE OF GRACE (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
9. SKIES CRYING (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
10. MOUSE TRIP (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
11. RESTLESS HEART (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
12. STILL RAIN (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
13. INTO THE VOID (5.1 SURROUND MIX))
14. ANDEAN EXPLORER (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
15. MYSTERY TALE (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
16. SUNSET RIVERBANK (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
17. TALE ENDER (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
18. SHORELINE (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
19. DAYS GONE BY (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
20. CRYSTALLINE (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
21. FLEUR-DE-LYS (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
22. GRAND TOUR (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
23. HOME ROAD (5.1 SURROUND MIX)
24. LIFE STORY (5.1 SURROUND MIX)

Added: October 2nd 2021
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Strings Of Light @ Cherry Red
Hits: 1288
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Phillips, Anthony: Strings Of Light
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2021-10-03 04:56:00
My Score:

Progressive rock fans well versed in progs’ early beginnings will know the name Anthony Phillips. The British guitarist co-founded Genesis and played on the band’s first two albums, From genesis To Revelation and Trespass. Phillips released his first solo album in 1977 titled The Geese & The Ghost. He has continued to release albums on a regular basis although his latest album titled Strings Of Light which came out in 2019 was his first release since 2012. Still, Strings Of Light is his thirty-first studio album, an impressive discography to say the least.

Phillips’ latest platter has twenty-four tracks spread over two discs plus a DVD and features only Phillips and his acoustic guitars. In fact, I count eighteen species of guitar and that my friend is a whole lot of nylon, steel and wood. As you might expect this is not a heavy album as the music is often serene and gentle, his playing nuanced, thoughtful and indeed majestic. The disc begins with “Jour de Fête”, a joyous melody unfolding within his clean and crisp string bending. With “Diamond Meadows” Phillips uses a Martin D12-35, and its distinctive tone is a perfect fit for the song’s wistful melody and beautifully picked arpeggios. The classically inspired “Caprice in Three” is finely crafted with every detail heard, I love the squeaking of the hand sliding down the guitar neck. It makes for a very intimate listening experience. For a more playful take, listen to his muted technique on the short “Mouse Trip” or if you are in the mood for a little twelve string action, the pretty “Winter Lights” should really satisfy with its slightly unorthodox chord sequences and robust sound.

On the second disc Phillips breaks out his Fender Stratocaster on "Sunset Riverbank" but his playing his gentle, melding exceptionally well with the accompanying acoustic arpeggios. For more twelve string explorations check out the ringing chords in the mysterious “Andean Explorer” and the slowly strummed “Shoreline” where Phillip’s makes every note count.

There is a third disc included, a DVD featuring the entire album in 5.1 surround sound. Worth a listen for all you audiophiles out there. I found the sound quality of all three discs to be superb.

Sure, this isn’t a rock album but Phillip’s craftsmanship and attention to every little detail and nuance is a strong attribute indeed. For a mellow and relaxing kick your feet back kind of listen, it doesn’t get much better than Strings Of Light. Another highly recommended release courtesy of Cherry Red Records/Esoteric Antenna.




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