Will Downing with Special Guest Phil Perry
Scottish Rite Cathedral
West Reading, PA
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Say Yes (Shanachie Entertainment) by Phil Perry
Old school in a new way, BITD soul feeling without the neo-autotune. Quality production, beautiful instrumentation and voice. The covers of Sam Cooke and Simon and Garfunkel tunes alone are worth buying the album.
“As always, when working with Big Dog (Davis), we try to address all the relevant directions relating to the material,” explains Perry. “We try to keep the classic essence while allowing me to be the artist that I am. What that means is singing the melody without it being sterile, inserting new background ideas and different instrumentation to contemporize the sound without removing the essence of classic R & B.” Produced by the multi-talented Chris “Big Dog” Davis, who has produced the likes of Will Downing, Maysa, and Kim Burrell, SAY YES, is a beautiful collection of original compositions co-written by Phil Perry and Davis, as well as reinventions of signature hits by such icons as Paul McCartney, Paul Simon, Michael McDonald & Carly Simon and Sam Cooke. The CD features classic songs such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “The Long And Winding Road,” “You Belong To Me” and the aforementioned “You Send Me.” On “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” Davis gives the track a subtle groove which takes the song out of pure balladry and Phil subtly gospelizes it, in short, a fresh approach to a song that has been recorded many times by other artists. “We were going for identifiability (on the classic cover songs),” Phil says. “Just because you cover a classic doesn’t mean you should lose yourself and what you are as an artist. I think that’s what separates any ‘classic’ endeavor we undertake from anyone else who is doing covers. We respect, then add.” The original compositions on SAY YES deliver finely-wrought romantic balladry that takes its cue from classic soul balladry but gets just enough contemporary treatment so that it does not sound “retro.” And always, there is a hint of jazz in Perry’s phrasing. In short, the album is state-of-the-art Phil Perry, exalting and explicating the many facets of love.
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