“I try to become the story, not just the Storyteller. The goal is to allow listeners to hear
themselves in the story.”- Phil Perry
Phil Perry has been in the game since the mid-70’s, but I was introduced to his music in 1994. This is when the album Pure Pleasure was released. I remember hearing a remake of the Patti Labelle classic, If Only You Knew. Now, if you are like me, even the thought of someone trying to remake that song just made me cringe.
The first verse in the song is probably one of the greatest EVER.
I must have rehearsed my lines
A thousand times
Until I had them memorized
But when I get up the nerve
To tell you, the words
Just never seem to come out right
And Phil Perry NAILED it….
So I was officially a fan. Don’t sleep on the rest of the album, because there are some other nice tracks on there.
Anyway, I have been following his career ever since, and when a Phil Perry album comes out, you know what you are going to get: Strong ballads and some mid-tempo grooves with some tight musicianship. That is the formula. There is no need to deviate from that. That is how you build an audience. Many artists try to get “creative” and “explore different musical stylings.” That is how they lose their audience over time.
Perry’s latest, Breathless will drop on February 24th. I just need to say that he has another winner here.
The title track, Breathless, is first out of the gate. Now, I always say that song order is very important. The opening track should be something that would lead off a live show. If you are promoting an album, you need an upbeat song to get people in the mood. Breathless does the trick. The horns grab you at the onset, and the guitar fills compliment Perry’s playful vocals.
It doesn’t take long for Perry to break out those high notes. Never Can Say Goodbye starts out with some strings and a hi-hat. Those are in the background as Perry’s vocals are front and center….They are restrained, but powerful. Then about halfway through, he hits those high notes, and you are reminded of his vocal prowess.
Perry speeds the tempo a little with Do Whatcha Gotta Do. This is a song where the commitment is questioned. If you stay, If you go, You gotta do whatcha gotta do. Figure out what you want, but I gonna do what I gotta do. We have all been through this, right?
The Stevie Wonder classic is next. Love’s In Need Of Love Today. This song has been remade several times, but there is something about Perry’s delivery that makes it great. When you have vocal chops like that, you can command the song. Perry ad-libs for about a minute to close out the song, and you cannot help but sing along.
Ok, I am happy and mad at the same time about the next song. Lee Ritenour’s Is It You is one of my favorite tracks, and I am happy that Perry put his stamp on the song. I am mad because it is only 2:13….WHAT!? You cannot tease us like that. I guess I will take what I can get.
We get back to a mid-tempo song with Nobody But You. Guitarist Tony DePaolo is featured on the track. This is one of those “Live” songs….one you need to hear live to get the full effect.
Heaven’s Away is up next, and it has that signature Phil Perry sound. He takes his time with the delivery, and at the end you get those signature high notes.
One Less Bell To Answer is a 5th Dimension classic. You get the old school feel, but it is definitely a new song. Can you believe this song originally came out in 1970?
Someday We’ll Met Again has Perry once again at his finest. The song reminds me of a Luther performance. The back and forth between the lead and background vocals is something I had always enjoyed.
Perry closes out with Moments In The House Of Love. With just a piano backing him up, it is one of those songs where you may be sitting at a lounge. The house band is playing, and the singer notices that Phil Perry is in the audience. After a little prodding, Phil takes the stage and croons for a few minutes. It does not get any better than that.
Perry is one of those singers where you just know that the new album will be good. This is definitely the case here. Like I mentioned earlier, he sticks to the formula. Slow jams, mid-tempo songs, and a couple of remakes sprinkled in. Breathless is an album that you will enjoy.
The album drops on February 24th, and if you want to add it to your collection, you can pre-order it here.