The new solo album from Phish guitarist/vocalist Trey Anastasio is a rousing success that covers many musical genres. On one hand, the guitarist dips his hand into the “jam” style that Phish has made so famous, which will please many fans. More importantly though is his triumph in melding complex funk, R&B, and touches of progressive rock into a thoroughly enjoyable and addicting platter of musical splendor.
One would think that a solo album from a well respected guitarist like Anastasio might be a virtual shred fest, and while there are plenty of white hot guitar licks and solos here, this album is more about grooves and melodies than anything else. Take “Drifting” for example, which is a great sing-along song featuring horns, liquid guitar lines, and Anastasio’s melodic vocals. The complex funk of “Cayman Review” is very reminiscent of Chicago in their early days, with thunderous horns leading the way above a very tight rhythm section. The lush instrumental “At the Gazebo” lets the guitarist show off his deft acoustic finger picking, atop a warm bed of horns. Those waiting for the harder edged tunes can look no further than “Mr. Completely”, a rousing number featuring Trey’s distorted guitar solos, sounding like the late Chicago axe-man Terry Kath gone mad. Prog rockers are in for a treat with “Last Tube”, which is an eleven-minute tour-de-force of psychedelic wah-wah guitars, funk bass lines, jazzy organ, and nimble percussion. The intensity of Trey’s guitar work on this track will send chills up your spine.
Perhaps long-time Phish fans will be a bit shocked upon first hearing this album, but after a few spins it shines on every level. Lovers of jazz-fusion, funk, and the early albums by Chicago, will no doubt find lots to like here.