Philip Presswood is a 35 year old pop/classical/Celtic artist who started writing music at the very young age of only four and had composed his first classical work at the age of sixteen. In 2005 he released his first nationally released solo album The Secret Of The Dawn, with two singles receiving a lot of radio play and acclaim. He later released Solea in 2008, then Beauty For Ashes in 2014.
This album consists of a huge 30 songs (over 2 hours of music!) that cover 3 CD’s featuring various styles, though his strong Celtic influence has led to comparisons with Enya. It begins with the magical grandeur of the title track, a classical/Celtic composition with a lovely melody.
Fly (Only Time) shows his Enya influence with an orchestral arrangement featuring harps that brought to mind Orinoco Flow. Vocally, he has a pure, almost angelic voice that is similar in ways to Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and this song has a spiritual vibe that recalls his finest work like Pet Sounds.
As there are so many tracks, I will have to concentrate on highlights! A True Love Story is a touching romantic ballad while Only I Dream Of You is classy choral pop with some intricate rhythms employed that give it a modern edge.
Lunar Eclipse is his experimental side while Days Unknown is Beach Boys to the max with a breathtaking vocal arrangement. Catch The Rain is a superb pop song with uplifting lyrics about creating a positive from something negative: “Catch the rain again, take a storm and make a wish….”.
On the second CD, Sweet Dreams is a gorgeous lullaby that will happily send anyone to sleep. Before The Sunrise is another fine romantic ballad, just vocal and piano. Wash All Over Me is one of the more thoughtful and philosophical songs, lyrically, about accepting life as it comes. Ghosttown is another highlight featuring his trademark songwriting style.
Interspersed with these songs are numerous instrumentals as well as instrumental versions of some of the songs. This adds to the musical variety, and allows Philip to showcase his pure compositional skills, as well as his abilities as a pianist and orchestral arranger.
These instrumentals comprise much of the 3rd CD which are all very good but enjoyed the exotic feel of Heartstrings and the elegiac Eternity. One late song I enjoyed was Love And You Will See, with its haunting melody and soft choral harmonies. The album is closed by three fine instrumentals.
Overall, this is a remarkable album that is simply mindblowing in its musical range and ambition. He has forged his own distinctive sound and style that has clearly developed over many years. It is certainly artistically brave to release such a huge piece of work in an era when singles dominate and the album almost seems like a lost art form. However, although Phillip Presswood’s music is complex, it is accessible and mostly very commercial – you can imagine hearing it on the radio. It deserves to be a huge success.
Verdict: 9.2 out of 10