Folk-inflected roots troubadour Phil Barlow is an artist whose career trajectory has been eagerly charted for a few years now within the pages of Blank GC. His initial musical forays, fronting blues rock act Phil Barlow and the Wolf lifted him to prominence, performing over 300 shows prior to undergoing a spiritual, personal and musical evolution of sorts over the past few years. This change in focus saw Barlow strip things back somewhat and go down a more introspective sonic pathway.
Having played an intimate series of ‘house concerts’ earlier this year, performing his music in people’s living spaces by invitation as well as showcasing his first book, ‘The Poetry Of Healing: Pain To Peace’, November now sees the arrival of his third long player, ‘True Evolution’.
Opening number, ‘In My Heart’, which recently premiered on Triple J’s ‘Roots n All’ program, commences proceedings on a memorable tangent with Barlow’s rich, heart melting vocals at the fore-front of a movingly assured slice of powerfully contemplative folk rock.
The album’s title track sees Barlow lay down his own true evolution, adorned in self reflective lines such as: “It’s been a long time coming, I hid myself in another man’s skin” and “I found something, I think it’s peace. I’m not sure ‘cause it’s new but it’s deep and it fits.”
Meanwhile songs such as ‘Steady Love’ sprinkle a dash of soul into the folk inflected sound space, augmented with some sweet female backing vocals.
‘Sweet Sunrise’ is one of the album’s strongest and most radio friendly moments, loping on a bedrock of spritely, reggae vibes and bouncy, folk-pop charms – the perfect summer sway-along.
‘Waiting For You’ injects a smoky, blues inflected undercurrent to proceedings. ‘Two Hearts’ is a moving folk-pop gem while the album’s more restrained moments towards the album’s latter half come in the form of ‘Let Me Fade’ and ‘The Wonderful World In Me’, the latter of which is fleshed out with some stirring string support.
With ‘True Evolution’, Phil Barlow has struck a pleasing middle ground between assured confidence and contemplative vulnerability.
Be sure to catch Phil Barlow in November when he launches the album in Brisbane (Nov 3), Sunshine Coast (Nov 9) and Gold Coast (Nov 17).