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Carousel Of Hope

West Chester, PA, United States

Warm and soothing folk heals the heart like nothing else. Stephanie Phillips’ latest album, ‘Carousel of Hope’ is oozing with silky luxurious folk, the kind that foams from speakers and spills like secrets. It's a sound that many attempt to create, but few ever do. I believe true folk resides in one's soul and it can only be brought out into song if the way is pure. Stephanie Phillips produces songs and sounds that ring like glass wind chimes and bless your ears with stories of truth, love, loss and family. It's a world within an album and it's a world I would want to live in. Colourful, warm, tonal and hopeful, a bookshop on every street corner, they sell candied nuts on the pier, queue for classic movies at the theatre, and listen to Stephanie Phillips all the time.

The album begins with a breath of hospitality and a sombre tone with ‘Lifeline’. You're enthralled as soon as those vocals hit you, but the guitar gets to you first. It's bright and sharp, clear in the silence and the playing is sublime. The highs catch the air and turn it to vapour which settles, soothing and softening the chords. It's a classic sound done right, the quality folk guitar is a delicacy and here on ‘Carousel of Hope’ you can experience it in its full majesty. The vocals layer and play with harmonies throughout the song, they are clear, honest and sublimely human. They do not race into the stratosphere, flouting preposterous highs compared to their deep lows, no. They sit and whittle a delicate melody and harmony in the mid, it is a vocal that you could call your best friend, one that could play a stadium of thousands and feel just as at home in a coffee shop. ‘Lifeline’ itself is a brilliant open, we get a little of everything. Instrumental sections, vocal strengths, the melody is chipper and catchy and the chorus is buttery smooth. And yes I know what you’re thinking. The whole album can’t be this good, can it? Well, yes, in fact, it can be.

Songs follow ‘Lifeline’ and they each hit the high bar it set for quality; ‘6 Feet’ has its sombre charm and heart-wrenching lyrics; ‘New Kind of Love’ with its upbeat melody and classic folk vibe, the pushing tempo and percussion. ‘Father's Day’ takes us back to contemporary folk, the chords following the lyrics and ticking off the chords faster and faster. Although the guitar paces, the piano added in the back warms it up and keeps it grounded, the vocals are never rushed and the harmony is glorious.

There’s simply too much quality on this album to miss, it spans every song, each gives a different charm and each knows its name and shouts it loud. Getting a song that sums up the album is nigh on impossible because of this. It's all so varied and different, and besides, whichever song you pick, you’re going to love it no matter what, there’s nothing not to like. But if I had to pick one to show the feeling that Stephanie Phillips can put across in song, it would be the title track, ‘Carousel of Hope’. It's divine in its melody, all of the instruments come out of the closet to play and they all sing as one. The percussion is light and friendly but it keeps the song flowing from section to section as it changes and winds its story through music.

What Stephanie Phillips has done here (with help, I’m sure they would like me to mention, from other artists MCKNZ, Jack Zaferes and Kenny Johnson) is create a folk sound that breathes a fresh zing of life into all those whom it touches, and that, reader, is the magic of music.



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