Not so long ago, here on planet Earth, I published a post commenting on Mr E.G. Phillips and his release of a single entitled ‘The Octopus Song’. I was aware at the time that an album featuring said single was in the offing and I am now in a position to let you know that the album Alien from an Alternative Earth will land on Friday 22 April, 2022.
Alien from an Alternate Earth is a tight volume of eight of E.G. Phillips’ songs (including the aforementioned ‘Octopus Song’) where his characteristically cinematic and whimsical lyrics are backed by an imaginative ensemble of the Bay Area’s best jazz players who create a sound that is both classic and striking.
‘Till We Have Faces Again’ is a bright and breezy Bossa Nova styled number with a good horn line, nice touches of flute, and a solid rhythm provided by Chris McGrew. ‘This Infertile Valley’ is a slower number with a relatively simple sounding melody with good backing vocals from Renee Padget. I have already written my thoughts on ‘The Octopus Song’ (“The song is whimsical, endearing, and fun…E.G delivers the song in a spoken word style that has a worldly-wise feel…”) and further listening changes nothing except to say that the more I hear that trumpet backing the more I like what I hear.
‘That May Not Be Good Enough’ starts with a burst of sax before E.G. Phillips comes in with his unique vocal style and venomous lyrics. The sax playing of Daniel Casares is good throughout, with nice touches of guitar from Jeffrey Burr, and trumpet from Rich Armstrong. ‘Fallen Out of Love’ has a lilting quality to it led by keyboardist Kevin Seal with interesting lyrics from Phillips. The flute of Daniel Casares is the feature instrument on ‘The Mockingbird’s Repertoire’ and a lovely bright lyrical sound it is too.
‘Ode to the Wildhorse Café’ is an ethereal dripping number that stands out for being different to what has gone before it and what comes after it. Track eight, ‘Brave Heart, Luna’ kicks in with a lively big band sound with a driving beat and strongly delivered lyrics. This ends the album on a high with a number that would not have been out of place in Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Moulin Rouge’.
This project was the result of a chance encounter with producer Chris McGrew and keyboardist/vocal arranger Kevin Seal at a recording session at the famed Hyde Street Studios in San Francisco. This led to McGrew assembling an all-star cast of local luminaries to provide that old school, 1950s feel Phillips was looking to imbue into these recordings – something in which he has succeeded.
This is a fun recording with fascinating lyrics derived from ideas inspired by others. The spoken-word vocal style of E.G. Phillips had my mind scurrying off in all directions as his phrasing and pace of delivery reminded me of a few vocalists who would not necessarily be considered conventional but are accepted because of their way with words. Alien from an Alternate Earth is fun, different, whimsical, and clever … it may also have become my guilty pleasure album for the best reason in the world, it made me smile.
Musicians: E.G. Phillips – vocals; Jeffrey Burr – guitar; Kevin Seal – keys; Paul Eastburn – upright bass; Chris McGrew – drums; Rich Armstrong – trumpet, trombone, and ﬂugelhorn; Daniel Casares – ﬂute, saxophones; Renee Padgett – backing vocals.
Tracklist: 1. Till We Have Faces Again. 2. This Infertile Valley. 3. The Octopus Song. 4. That May Not Be Good Enough. 5. Fallen Out of Love. 6. The Mockingbird’s Repertoire. 7. Ode to The Wildhorse Café. 8. Brave Hear, Luna.