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Petra Jean Phillipson - Notes on Love


Review: Jack Foley

PETRA Jean Phillipson is hitherto best known as the female vocalist on David Holmes' psychedelic punk-funk ensemble, The Free Association, but here she branches out into solo territory.

Notes on Love is, by her own admission, a raw, bluesy, confrontational approach to songwriting that was recorded last year in London's Mayfair Studios with the help of friend and former Verve guitarist, Si Tong.

It's bewitching style is sure to draw comparisons with both PJ Harvey and Billie Holiday and the album sometimes becomes a little too dark for its own good.

But there are several tracks to savour, not least in her exquisite cover version of Nick Cave's Into My Arms, which features her vocals at their most sultry and Tong's guitar at its most deliciously simple.

The beguiling whistle that accompanies the chorus is a completely relaxing bonus that effortlessly compliments Phillipson's husky style.

Strong, too, is the melancholic Play Play, an atmospheric slow-builder that reaches several highs.

The shuffling snare drums and bittersweet melodies of One Day unfold like a beautiful daydream that are bound to conjure favourable comparisons with some of Emiliana Torrini's recent work.

While the rawer sound of Independent Woman displays Phillipson at her most bluesy, as though she may just have sauntered out of the Deep South.

The jagged guitars and blues-ridden riffs merely add to the impressive vibe surrounding the track - especially late on, as Phillipson's voice really strectches itself.

Elsewhere, the album provides a diverting, if not especially original listen that occasionally has you yearning for a Holmes' style piece of funk to liven things up.

Yet Phillipson sticks to her guns and purrs her way to the final track, Cradle of Your Smile.

The result, while not always successful, marks Phillipson out as another strong vocal performer whose solo work is sure to find a marketplace of its own.

Track listing:
1. I Want The Impossible
2. One Day
3. Independent Woman
4. Billy Steaks
5. Nothing If Not Writing Time
6. I'm Lying
7. Play Play
8. Into My Arms
9. On Me Jack
10. Wildfire
11. Cradle Of Your Smile


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