After fronting bands for well over a decade, Lindsay Phillips changed direction. Armed only with a guitar and a handful of arresting songs he stepped back onto the stages of Melbourne in 2005 as a solo artist. If you are fortunate enough to see him perform, it is his voice, all gravel and melodic charm that will pin you. His songs are laments – haunted offerings to the lost souls of love.
His latest album is The Sleep Song which we have the pleasure in premiering here on FRUK ahead of its official release on 20 June 2017 along with a very personal and revealing track-by-track run through from the artist himself. The Sleep Song is available to pre-order via Bandcamp.
The Sleep Song by Lindsay Phillips
And so I arrive at album number five. My first, entitled Varning, had been released in 2010 when I was still resident in my country of birth – Australia. The Sleep Song, being my third full-length effort following relocation to Sweden, is a home production as are the previous two albums. This out of necessity, but not without merit as I feel that the relaxed home recording environment generally yields a better performance. And that is what you’ll find here – a collection of performances. I place a microphone before myself, always recording vocal and guitar simultaneously. I do not like to make too many attempts, or ‘takes’, as the feeling can become lost in the search for perfection. There are no edits, drop-ins, corrections or re-tunings, compressors or processors. The recording machine is something that I refer to as a glorified dictaphone. Thus, warts and all!! Moving on – here are some thoughts regarding the songs themselves.
- You, Silent You
There are a couple of good examples on this album of the song that materialised and cemented itself within the space of five minutes. I can’t tell you what a rare pleasure this was for me, being an artist for whom it is usual to spend months in crafting and hammering songs into a final shape. But there…this is a simple but pretty (I’d thought) melody coupled with a lyric drenched in the deathlike silence of romance and mortality – two themes that have been commonly visited in my works. Now I hear you ask why it took 5 minutes to pen a two-minute song.
- The Sleep Song
The press release that I’d sent out to reviewers along with this album makes mention of a number of these songs as being conceived whilst ‘humming’ my child to sleep, and this is the song that comes foremost to mind. In fact, 1 ½ years later, my boy still falls asleep daily to the strains of this melody – I guess he’ll never forget it and will perhaps be slightly scarred. In effect, it is a nursery rhyme through and through; the pristine sleeper safely guarded in their chamber, softly reassured.
- For the Love We Knew
On occasion, I find myself listening to one of my earlier releases, and it occurs to me that I’d willfully forced darker themes, musically and lyrically, into a ‘folk’ context. I feel that with The Sleep Song, I’ve managed to let go of some of these pretentions and write music and lyric a little more openly – less with the head, freely allowing the song to be…to develop as it will. In any case, I do like the lyrical imagery in this song. I guess the veiled message is something along the lines of ‘being thankful for the simple pleasures and gifts’ as it were.
- The Harness and the Wing
I’d say that I imagine this to be my own take on an Eleanor Rigby-esque fable, though lacking, somewhat, the finesse of said piece. I didn’t necessarily intend for it to be a swipe directly at Christianity or toward those of religious disposition but in general just the greedy individual with his/her hand in the honey pot.
- Tyranny & Sanctity
A little commentary (short statement) regarding what I consider to be the latest trend in western politics – strange little figures proclaiming good Christian values and declaring their regular Sunday attendance whilst simultaneously withdrawing welfare from the homeless, ill, and unemployed as well as consigning millions of refugees to camps far away somewhere east of ‘here’ or perhaps to an island guarded by negligent (and, no doubt, often brutal) privatized security companies or military. Xenophobia is a must. Other interests include propping up multi-billion dollar coal mines and stations and/or oil pipelines with taxpayer monies in an age when the climate debate is thoroughly over, and ‘other’ energy sources are proving cheaper and the technologies increasingly viable. Who are these people? Where did they come from? Why and how were they elected? Probably this is all nothing new, but I was really only born yesterday.
- A Scar Exposed
I could almost go so far as to say that I was a little excited whilst working on this one – the gothic/romantic imagery coupled with a rolling open chord sequence and motif that sounded as though it may have originated somewhere in the middle east. It felt like a place that I hadn’t ventured before, musically.
- Casting Shadows
The focus, lyrically, is upon our global climate ‘situation’ and seeming unwillingness or inability to fully come to an agreement or to act. The recording itself is of interest as I’ve layered a second track of guitar and vocal on top of the original, which is known as ‘double tracking’. No real revelation, but not a technique that I commonly make use of. The result is noticeable.
- The Resistance
A haunting piece that I’m quite fond of, and another that came together very quickly – simplistic in structure. The lyric may read like a confused great depression era, or even frontier, narrative. For me, it speaks of land grabs or the seizing of public water sources for corporate gain…so on and so forth.
I cannot claim to be, nor have I ever been, a player of the ukulele. However, this we gave to our child as a first birthday present and consequently I’d spend at least an hour per day playing it – passing the time, really, in the boy’s room as we entertained ourselves between meals, dog walks and sleeps. As it happens, I did write a few pieces on the instrument during that time – this being the best of the bunch. The lyric takes me back to the years not long past that we spent living in a cabin in the wilds of Sweden; by a lake in the forest with a pack of wolves, some moose, wild boar, eagles, beavers and woodpeckers for company.
- When It Rains (Tears and Ashes)
If you’re (still) reading this article, and listening, then you probably have the impression that I feel absolutely ill at the way in which we, as a species, treat ourselves/one another/other species/this planet. Several times per week, I take my boy and dog out to wander about our rural community, filling bags with the rubbish we collect along the road. Mostly beer and coke cans, cigarette packets and ‘candy’ wrappers of various description. I wonder why people have become so careless. It occurs to me that when we, as people, stop respecting ourselves, then we no longer respect our surroundings and those around us. We should strive to find self-worth and encourage it in others. There is so much more than what capitalism and consumerism have shown us. There is another way forward for all life on the good earth.