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CD REVIEW: Shane Philip - In the Moment
By Chip Withrow - 05/10/2008 - 08:33 PM EDT

Artist: Shane Philip
Album: In the Moment
Genre: Percussive alt folk
Sounds Like: String Cheese Incident, Mickey Hart
Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Good Morning, Deaf, Strange Noises
CD Review: Lately, the song I have been listening to for a jump start is Shane Philip’s “Good Morning.” Delightfully chipper and optimistic, chirpy harmonica, twangy diggeridoo, angelic backing vocals – what’s not to like? Like good coffee, it’s a great wake-up call and a nifty afternoon pick-me-up.

Shane Philip is a fine singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist – his acoustic-centered songs on In the Moment are percussive and filled with unusual and cool flourishes. The opening track, “Strange Noises,” kicks off with a big blast of didgeridoo, and turns into a funky, hypnotic number with a snaky bass line and Shane’s raspy-yet-trippy vocal.

Philip can thrown down deep, deep grooves, like the reggae thump of “Same Road” (more propulsive bass, courtesy of Corwin Fox).  He can also deliver shimmering folk like “Where the Truth Lies” and “Seeing You” – I could give away some of the interesting touches that make these more than your typical acoustic fare, but they are worth discovering on your own.

“Step Left” is also in this mellower vein, but it’s exotic enough to remind me of Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry.” Again, it’s full of sounds worth discovering on your own.

“The Situation” and “Deaf” both dig deep into traditional folk blues – “The Situation” is notable for slippery cello-like bass (and that it was recorded live), and “Deaf” is wicked backwoods fun, layered with nasty slide guitar and percolating percussion and didge. It’s one of my favorites.

Mid-album, Philip interjects a couple of songs, “Clearcut Issue” and “Mocha,” that are almost strictly percussion, like something done by one of Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart’s bands. Then he glides gently back with the title song, a wistful, ethereal folk number with an earnest, personal vocal take – it is also a fine example of the poetic simplicity of his lyrics.

“Smile” is a joy of a song, as upbeat as “Good Morning” but with a lope to it. “Smile” ends too darned soon, but the following “Serenity” is a great way to end the disc – mellowly dueling guitars, sort of like the Allmans’ “Little Martha” except with a boinging didge. Philip and Fox are fine string pickers throughout the disc.

In the Moment satisfies my craving for jam-band adventure and offbeat yet comfortable folk. And from the background material I read, I gather Shane Philip is an intense live performer, too. Hope this Canada native makes his way to sunny Florida sometime to escape a brutal winter and play a few shows.

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