Phil Cooper’s singer-songwriting style is firmly in the pop-folk arena: ringing guitar, tight bass and drums and clever use of backing vocals. He turned pro two years ago and Thoughts & Observations is his third studio album.
This is an album that I liked more as it went on. There are songs of social comment, fine songs, too, but the first two tracks felt messy on first listening. The first track that really engaged me was ‘Fear Factory’, probably because it chimes with my own views. It’s an attack on the mainstream media; Phil isn’t specific but we all know which publications he’s talking about, don’t we? ‘Only A Song’ is rather self-deprecating as Phil says that he’s just singing what he thinks and, after all, it’s only a song. Woody Guthrie proclaimed that “this machine kills fascists” and I’m all for singers following that line.
Second time around it’s rather like starting a detective story after first reading the end. When you know where it’s going, where it starts becomes more enjoyable. So the first track, ‘Thoughts & Observations (Introduction)’, comes across as a mission statement for the album and ‘Keeping Something Inside’ is sound advice – none of us can change the world alone but the corollary is missing – keep your own side of the street clean. ‘Shake It Up’ maybe embraces that thought.
‘Road Songs’ is the embodiment of the travelling musician’s life story and like ‘Smokescreen’ and ‘Face Doesn’t Fit’ it rings true more with repeated listening. The latter exemplifies the take-home message of the album – that we spend too much of our lives cocooned in our own little bubble, partly of our own making. My first favourite song is still my favourite but as I listen more and more of Thoughts & Observations floats my boat.
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‘Shake It Up’ – Phil’s new single: