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Phil The Tremolo King ‘11’

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The many arduous travails and pertinacious tribulations of the lo-fi, Tropicana, blues rocking, Phil The Tremolo King, are etched across every song from his last concomitant collection, 11.

Originally released in 2011 (hence its numeral title), the album has thankfully resurfaced, prompted by Phil’s recent spring tour: a kickstarter funded project that saw the troubadour catch the ‘Amtrek Sunset Ltd.’ train ride from New Orleans to L.A, stopping off on-route to play impromptu gigs wherever he could find them.

A grizzled self-determine guides Phil’s quirky musings and observational ditties, the artist following an unconventional route towards his musical goals. Calling ‘Orleans’ his home, the Belgium born and raised, self-styled, Tremolo King has at one time or another been a house painter, bookseller, gallery guard, recycler, street busker and film maker. Imbued by those Louisiana surroundings, his twilight hour barroom songs never shy away from the thoughtful issues of the day, despite the sunnier dispositions found suffused throughout the LP.

The soliloquy lamented, anti-war, warning, The Torturers Song; weary down-tempo tale of woe, Downtown Taste (“Little uptown girl wants a downtown taste”); and French Quarter flavoured, mortuary saga, St. James Infirmary Blues, all take a darker tone. However, the cost-price recording techniques favoured by Phil (who records his vocals through the headphones and mixes on a boombox) add a child-like and whimsical suggestion to proceedings.

Like a breath of ‘Blue Hawaii’ era Beach Boys, Afternoon Sun is a sweet, Brian Wilson on a budget, Casio keyboard shuffler (and potential single in my eyes), whilst its bookend of sentiment, Who Let The Sunshine In, sounds like John Cale on his uppers.

Phil’s solution to the world’s ills and everyday drudgery of life is inaugurated on the, cut-yourself-some-slack, Don’t Carry The Weight On Your Shoulders (“Don’t be like that Greek guy/ pushing a boulder up the mountain/ only to have it roll back”), and on the scuzzy, worn, rocker, Follow Your Dreams. Both cut an earnest swathe through the pragmatist’s cynicism, and chime with the albums general theme of buoyant cheeriness.

Amusingly there’s a tongue-in-cheek, T-Rex strutting, ode to the musician’s present plight on The Starving Artist Syndrome, and a rather odd but curiously uplifting paean to the Lord that sounds like a lost Sun Records Recording or bout of Glen Campbell gospel country, on the exalted Don’t Thank Me Thank Jesus (which I’m sure is some kind of cover version).

 

11 ends on the poignant intrusion and tranquil soundscape, Burnett Road On A Sunday Afternoon: a broken synth melody weaves in-and-out as echoes of conversation and movement waft around the sun-dappled descriptive atmospherics. Covering not only ambient site-specific narratives, Phil The Tremolo King stitches together child megaphone Dada, reverent bayou blues and quivering Chris Isaak presence, to produce an unassuming little masterpiece.

 

 

[Rating:4]

http://philthetremoloking.wix.com/tremolo-train-tour

 

 

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.