Phillip Broussard – Wavelength

 Phillip Broussard – Wavelength

Phillip Broussard – Wavelength – EP Review

Fun FACT and insider pro-tip you likely won’t find anywhere else – Phillip Broussard’s new EP called Wavelength has a track-listing that features five songs in reverse alphabetical order.

Of course, that’s just something strange that happened to catch my eye as I was starting to listen to the new record…a couple minutes of reading about Phillip online and listening to his music confirms there’s a lot more to talk about than the order in which the songs appear on Wavelength.  Take for instance, his dedication and service to his country – Phillip is an esteemed Navy Veteran who has served in notable, important and freedom-preserving tours…many of which have resulted in preserving the peace we enjoy directly.  As I’ve always believed, people like Phillip are the real superheroes on our planet…and even over the borders here in Canada, we understand the impact and sacrifice these incredible soldiers and those in service contribute to not just the peace of their own country, but that of the world at large.  And on behalf of all those people out there – we thank you for your service Phillip.

If you read up on his history, Phillip grew up with a strong attachment & love of music, discovering his talent & connection to it early on in life by picking up his father’s guitar.  He’d grow up writing his songs and developing his own style before joining the United States Navy at eighteen years-old.  Over a decade ago, while he was out there serving his country, someone slipped him a copy of John Mayer’s Room For Squares.  While some musical relief is no doubt always welcome out there in the thick of the situation, the album went far-beyond just being a good listening experience and moment of reprieve for Phillip – it became a true inspiration and fueled his own motivation to pick up a guitar once again.  While he was out on his tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, he wrote, refined, played, sang in the downtime of service and was able to provide a light to himself and to others in the darkness, through music.

Coming back home to Seattle, Washington, in the state he was born & raised in – Phillip already had songs ready to go and a new career in music awaiting.  The results of his efforts are the songs you’ll hear on the Wavelength EP…the first five steps into an entirely new and long overdue chapter in his life.

What’s important going forward for Phillip from here…is honesty.  Not gonna lie to the guy, that’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to obtain objectively from the people out there once the story of service comes into play…we’re all awed by that, as we truly should be…but it can also taint the outcome of analysis in many, many ways.  Just watch any of the talent shows out there from The Voice to America’s Got Talent and you’ll likely see a veteran with decent talent knock out a killer competitor with arguably better skills, based on story alone.  I don’t blame judges or the people in scenarios like this…again, it’s highly impressive and honorable stuff…but in terms of getting the feedback artists like Phillip will truly need, it’ll actually become a lot tougher to keep people listening objectively without a positive-bias.

I mean…of course…he COULD just sit back and enjoy that…I can’t see anything wrong with that either particularly…in many ways, that’s completely great for the soul.  And this isn’t a pre-amble into some horrible beat-down of Phillip’s music either…I’m just making the case for how important it is to continue to be REAL with people, no matter what the circumstances are.  I’ve had to deliver the bad news to artists that are in the throes of cancer, the depressed, self-conscious and suicidal…I’ve never been mean as far as I can remember – but I do consider it very important to treat everyone and their art with the same amount of dignity and respect, which to me means being honest in every situation at all times.

The Wavelength EP came out officially on November 18th of this year, which also happens to be Phillip’s dad’s birthday.  When you hear the first song/single of the record, “Just Wanna Believe” – it sounds like it’s a fairly interpretive love song…the lyrics and tone of his voice in the chorus certainly indicate that struggle with the good & bad parts of being in love.  I think you can hear the dreamer in Phillip on this first song and that it reveals a lot about the character and heart in the man behind the music right away…he might have had an up/down relationship with the experience of love as the storyline in “Just Wanna Believe” will detail…but it also displays a hopefulness and the audible sound of a man that has not yet given up on the idea that everything can somehow work out one day.  At the very least, “Just Wanna Believe” is a sweet trip down the nostalgia trail with a beautiful mix of imagery & emotion in the words from this singer/songwriter and a heartfelt performance from Phillip that I think many people out there would be able to connect with & relate to.  As a first impression – I think this opening track from record puts out a truly humble atmosphere and gentle approach…the subtleness of the intricate guitar parts is brilliantly understated and you can hear in the tone of Phillip’s vocals that his words are sincere.

Alright so…let’s get the easy comment out of the way; “In My Chords” probably could have used a notch or two more volume to avoid the noticeable drop from the first song to the next.  Big deal, that’s an easy fix, and Phillip can do that any time if/when it comes time for this cut to make the final lineup on a full-length record if that’s where these songs eventually end up, which many on our EPs quite often do.  All instantly-obvious observations aside, what’s important is the idea itself and how intact that is…and I think for the most part, Phillip’s got himself a solid second tune here.  I’m somewhat tossed-up on the verse…I think he performs & sings it well…he ditches the rhyme-scheme in a couple spots here where you’ll expect he’d continue down that path.  That usually results in one guaranteed event coming right around the corner, which is that the chorus will feel like it hits the mark that much harder when the adherence to the rhythm in the rhymes return from line to line, which it does on “In My Chords.”  A shorter, less wordy way of saying all that is that he’s definitely out-written himself from verse to chorus here…it might take a while for people to warm up to the tenderness in the verse, but I can pretty much guarantee they’ll instantly respond to the up-tempo melody of the chorus right away.  I’m in no means advocating that all songs need to rhyme…I’m simply commenting on the noticeable difference it makes in terms of accessibility; it can’t be beat.  The verses on “In My Chords” where Phillip does stick closer to that flow in the melody, accented by words at the end of each line that rhyme together, seem to be the ones likely to be most noticed by the people as well…though I admire the switch to something less structured occasionally, like the opening verse where he’s simply expressing exactly what he wants to say.  Which incidentally, I think is also worth taking the time to comment on…notice how sweet a song like “In My Chords” is right down to the roots?  We always get that rough-and-ready vision of a veteran – it’s important to remember that they’re just people too on the inside, like the rest of us…they have many, many wants, dreams and aspirations for life beyond combat…”In My Chords” is proof of that.

Where the tides started to turn for me in the right direction, was on “Drowning.”  I haven’t been dissatisfied mind you…”Just Wanna Believe” gave a great first impression, the ideas in “In My Chords” and sweetness was there…but on “Drowning,” Phillip becomes noticeably more comfortable in a more introspective environment.  That make sense?  Whereas the first two tales of love are certainly good songs…you can tell that a lot of the content in the lyrics of “Drowning” has been what has really been on Phillip’s mind…everything sounds 10% more real here.  It might not be the happiest song you’ll hear this year – but it IS real…and it’s because of that strength in his connection to the words he’s written, that added degree of pure, unfiltered honesty in how his path in life has affected him…that this is an experience we can truly feel and empathize with.  I also think it’s highly important for an artist to relay the experiences they have in life, for good or bad…essentially if you can find yourself in a position like Phillip is in now, where he’s at a point where he’s strong enough to talk about his conflicting emotions and thoughts, you’re becoming a champion for the people out there that cannot speak yet for themselves.  Messages like this can be transcendent of the music itself and become altogether important; they don’t need to necessarily be happy ones…they just need to be real and get that dialogue/awareness out there to the people that might need to hear it most.  The fact that Phillip can go through the emotions he’s relating on “Drowning” and come through it all is all the evidence you need to support the fact that there’s a happy ending to the story…he’s HERE with us today, and now making the music he’s always wanted to make.  Ultimately, as dark as the places are in his mind that he’ll take you through on “Drowning,” it becomes a tale of inspiration just in knowing he’s come out successfully on the other side, now confident & strong enough to tackle such personal content.

Plus he ends this cut on an awesome solo after a whole bunch of highlight moments for his musicianship…I mean, there’s always that too.  You’re allowed to like whatever you like about “Drowning” – no judgments here.  But we can all agree – this is a strong tune for Phillip, yes?  I think so.

Well, hang on, cause this EP still gets better.  Obviously I don’t think laying the songs out in reverse alphabetical order was an intentional move…but I also can’t seem to argue against the fact that it’s clearly also paying off for him and allowing this record to expand beautifully from idea to idea.  Of all the songs I’ve heard on this record so far – I think it’s clear that Phillip has the ability to write a great tune that people will sincerely enjoy…but I’ll admit…I was still looking for that song that was powerful enough to break through the tales of honorable service and set his story apart from his musical capabilities.  That moment came when “Best Friend” began.

Spread out in a slower-paced, more pensive and reflective atmosphere, Phillip sings “Best Friend” with his whole soul…the words are heartbreakingly sweet and written in tribute to what sounds like a friendship long passed after the death of a fallen friend, but an attachment still fresh in his mind today.  A real “Best Friend” is never going to leave you in life or in death…the people that matter to us most never really ever leave us & their beautiful ghosts will haunt our memories perfectly for years to follow.  Turning tragedy into art, in my opinion, is one of the absolute best ways to honor someone we love after they’re gone from this world…listening to “Best Friend,” I’m not gonna lie – it damn near brings a tear or two to my eye just from trying to understand the experience that leads to a song like this being written.  Phillip does an amazing job of expressing himself on this song…the tone in his voice is spot-on, the mix of sincerity, melancholy, loss and acceptance is truly something to witness.  I really think he nailed this one inside & out…the guitars are stunning and the authenticity in the connection between the lyrics and the way that Phillip performs this song really shows that this guy has that real magic required to stand out from the rest of the singer/songwriters out there.  “Best Friend” is exceptional by every measure.

Alright…so…if you’ve been following along here, Phillip puts one side of his writing on display with the themes of love flowing through the spirit of his first two tracks, then he puts out another dimension that takes us into the mind of Broussard over the two tracks to follow, leading us to the bridge between them in the final track, “All Over Again.”  While for the most-part this last song is a love song as well, you also get amazing insight into what life has been like for Phillip since he’s been home and the descriptions & imagery of his words on “All Over Again” detail the ups/downs of relationships, newfound love, time apart and finding his way back to that freedom to love without worry.  He sings it well; the hooks are sweet and sincere, much in that similar vein in which the sound of the Wavelength EP began to bring it full-circle to a conclusive ending that satisfies through the isolated & intimate final story & song.

What I will say is this:  I support the sincerity I found in Phillip…this guy genuinely has music inside him that you can hear has been waiting a very long time to get out…and I think you can hear this new side of him blossoming throughout this entire EP.  The very last thing I’d ever want to do is discourage anyone out there from writing another love song…as many as there might already be, it’s also clear that the world at large still needs a whole lot more of’em – but what I advise Phillip, would be to examine the differences between “Just Wanna Believe,” “In My Chords,” & “All Over Again” verses what’s happening in “Soldier” and “Best Friend.”  Because I believe there’s a difference you can audibly hear in the strength of the connection to the material; as to whether or not that’s ideal for Phillip to tap into as an artist…that’s gonna be up to him.  What I know is that the more this EP revealed the depths of his emotions through his personal tales, melodies, and songs, the better the results became…the more he was able to take us into a place where we can see the world from his own unique perspective.  For me, that’s what worked the best – though again, to be truthful, I did enjoy the entire set without any hesitation; Phillip’s got a very warm & inviting style of gentle acoustic that’s quite accessible to the ears – not just my own, but likely everyone’s out there.  Sincerity like this has a way of connecting to all.

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