If By Yes (Encrypted Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Living in the city of Roanoke, Virginia, Phil Norman is an accomplished singer-songwriter at the age of twenty-two. Starting to perform his songs at age 16, the time spent has helped him perfect his craft at an early age. His songs are mature, deep, and tasteful. His acoustic folk style is very telling, and very promising, in every aspect. Nine songs make his debut CD release very potent.
Starting off with "Circumstances," Phil Norman has no problem keeping your attention. His voice is perfect for the folk realm, rich and intertwined with his companion, his guitar. If hard work and blue collar ethics are what keep the foundation of our society stable, then it seems Phil Norman is right there helping to preserve America as we known it. Although he may only be twenty-two, his imagination and genuine feelings help to shadow over the lack of personal experiences. Then again, who knows what he's been through and experienced. Whatever the scenario may be, he does a great job of keeping everything very down to earth and full of emotional questions and long, thought-out searches for the answers.
As the album progresses, splinters of pop and blues help sweat their way into the prevalent folk melodies. Carried by the acoustic guitar, each song never holds back the punches and feels more than confident pouring out every ounce of feeling it holds true. Phil's voice is also a key component in the scenario, without which the music would just crawl off into boredom and shadowing disgrace.
The drums help add a token punch to the music, but above that they don't do much for the music. A nice extra, they sometimes get in the way and take the personal traits out of the music. Not often, however, because Phil, his voice, and his guitar are more than able to keep the music focused and dead on.
Without losing himself in messy attempts at heart and soul, or pondered thoughts, the maturity on this album far surpasses musicians twice his age. With so many advantages stacked up in his favor, Phil has no problems tempting his audiences with an established folk record. I'll give this disc a B+.