Review: Phil Hooley ‘Songs From The Back Room’

Phil Hooley
Songs From The Back Room

Phil Hooley, frontman and founding member of alt-country band The Woolgatherers, has teamed up with former Nashville drummer and producer Justin Johnson for his first solo project which they recorded in Scarborough.

The emphasis of this record is on the songwriting, particularly the stories the lyrics tell, all framed by a traditional country arrangement. That Same Old Song is a classic story telling, mid-tempo country-folk song, made ever more consequential by Hooley’s unpolished vocals. Whereas on Pour Me A Drink, Hooley shows his lyric writing abilities as he pulls out a clever hook “Pour me a drink and I’ll pour out my heart.” It’s an upbeat track despite it’s sad undertones and it’s on this track that Hooley’s vocals are at their strongest. Ballads like River Of Dreams and It’s Time We Said Goodbye though beautifully written don’t suit Hooley’s vocals as well. The latter closes out the record and holds a lot of emotion, something which is hammered home by the use of the countermelodies on the fiddle.

It’s not the most polished album but what it does, is showcase Hooley’s storytelling abilities within his lyrics and you can hear the influences of Guy Clark and John Prine in his writing.

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Zoe Hodges,
Editor, Maverick Magazine

Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823920

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