It was always a howling good time when Phil Barlow and the Wolf prowled the stage. The bluesy, gritty rock quartet packed houses around South East Queensland for the last eight years. Now, keen to dial things back for a while, soulful leader of the pack Phil Barlow has taken a long, lone wolf journey inwards, producing his most heartfelt and personal work to date in the form of the aptly titled solo album ‘True Evolution’.
“It’s an inner evolution that made its way out into music,” says Phil when we catch up for our chat. “It’s about authentic expression. Music is also that portal for myself and fans – I hope it helps other people to traverse some of their blockages.”
‘True Evolution’ is Phil’s third studio album, and his most rewarding, personally.
“Chasing goals and pursuing something can be good for short term accomplishment,” he says. “But I’ve learnt that true fulfillment is something deeper than that. Expressing from my heart and seeing others respond – that is very fulfilling.”
Phil is taking it back to basics with his live shows; Man plus acoustic guitar plus a stomp. An accomplished poet as well as singer, songwriter and guitarist, Phil likes to sprinkle the live sets with some of his original poems as well. He’s keen to foster an environment where people are not just watching a show, but are somewhere that enables them to drop into a meditative, relaxed, introspective space. And so far, it’s definitely working.
“I like to keep it raw,” he says. “I love that vulnerability, and I feel that people are responding to the power of simplicity.”
I wonder if he has any favourite tracks on the new album, and he muses for a while.
“Live, I enjoy playing ‘Steady Love’ and people really enjoy that too, they sing along to it, and also ‘Sweet Sunrise’. I enjoy ‘True Evolution’, cause I guess it’s just the one song that captures the essence of the album.”
His favourite lyric, however, comes from ‘Waiting For You’, one of the album’s singles released early this year.
“It’s ‘Life told me to wait, so I’m waiting for you love’”, he recites. “It’s probably not the most amazing lyric,” he laughs. “But it was inspired by a real moment when I asked the universe for guidance, because I felt like I wanted a companion. It’s human nature for us to long for that union, where you bring out the best in each other. The universe responded for me to wait, to be still.”
Phil’s openness and honesty is refreshing and engaging, but it’s been a process to get there, he admits.
“I guess earlier on I had insecurities and sometimes you hide insecurities in different ways, it gets expressed through the personality, maybe exaggerated elements of yourself. Now I’m about sharing some heartspace, and being more accepting of myself.”
A true evolution, indeed.
‘True Evolution’ will be available on Spotify and Apple Music from 8 November. Check out our album review, here. You can catch Phil performing live at his Gold Coast launch show at Dust Temple Currumbin on 17 November. Keep an eye on Phil’s socials for video releases.