Sep 8, 2014

Album Review: Phillip Fox Band - Heartland

By Jeremy Harris

In my mind, The Phillip Fox Band is already somewhat established, which makes it a little weird that "Heartland" is their first full length album. At least they came out swinging for the fences in what they refer to as "Country-Fried Rock'n'Roll" just as I hoped they would with a great mix of varying songs that were uniquely assembled with help from fans that were given the opportunity to vote for the songs the band had written to prepare for this release. The first few seconds of the album sets the tone for the listener with the banjo intro of "You Are The Girl" which quickly transforms into an upbeat love song that features Phillip's signature raspy vocals backed by a killer drum beat and a good mix of banjo and electric guitar.

The beat and energy remain high through the next few songs and even offer some good sing along moments before toning it down for "Lovin You". This is where I feel the band truly shines as they slow it down and bring in unexpected amounts of vocal range to compliment great instrumentation, all while appealing to the listener with smart, relatable lyrics. Unless you've never been in love or worked for a jackass, then it's relatable.

"Ava Lee" comes in next and it's a very good song but my inner twelve year old keeps singing "Anally" so maybe I'll just move on...

The next four tracks "Nothin Worse Than Weak," "Heartland," "We All Lose Somethin" and "I'd Be Runnin Too" provide as wide of a range of "Country-Fried Rock" as you'll ever find in any artists' complete library all packed into consecutive songs. While all four definitely are more on the rock side of things, they are all over the spectrum of the genre and stand out yet somehow blend the album together all at the same time.

Obviously cancer sucks. Obviously most songs that hit on the subject aren't exactly upbeat and life inspiring given the topic at hand. Fortunately, especially considering Phillip recalls his wife's own battle,"Cancer Cannot" is actually an inspiring, upbeat and uplifting track about what cancer can't do and the perseverance of the human spirit and body. Having personally experienced family members having every possible outcome of the disease, I truly appreciate this one for what it is.

How does eight and a half minutes of badassery sound? Buy the album, take a listen, and after you've heard 11 tracks that are tied together by their differences as much as they are by their similarities you'll find out when the 11 becomes a 12. "I Ain't Angry" brings the highs, the lows, the fast and the slow all together in one final, kickass masterpiece that rounds out the package the way you'd hope it would. Kinda like Luke Bryan falling off the stage but here's the kicker... he's not getting back on. Yep, it ends that awesomely.


RIYL: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Reckless Kelly.

Available at Amazon, iTunes and the band's site.

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