Friday, September 18, 2009

Disc of the Day: Phish, Joy

It's great to have mighty jamband Phish back in action, and I hope to catch the durable band live before too long. Meanwhile, the group has delivered its first studio CD since the break-up. My review of the new Joy was published in Las Vegas City Life. Click here or read a slightly different version below.

Joy (Jemp)

Jangly, rambling, and riding a sweet mid-tempo rock groove stoked by Page McConnell's watery and then rootsy piano, "Backwards Down the Number Line" opens Phish's first post-reunion CD with a dose of eminently likable pop. That tune, like several others on the album, produced by Steve Lillywhite, is infused with Trey Anastasio's wondrously creative guitar work and a brand of nostalgia that's relatively free of sap.

No wonder: Anastasio, who wrote much of the new material with the help of longtime collaborating lyricist Tom Marshall, is back from a disastrous bout with drug and alcohol addiction. And after a four-year hiatus, former jamband kings Anastasio, McConnell, bassist Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Gordon apparently are back together for the foreseeable future.

Anastasio also hints at his own regrets and tribulations on "Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan," with its trippy, repeating chorus, the anthem "Twenty Years Later," and "Kill Devil Falls," which starts out as a bluesy boot stomper before opening wide for a six-string jam. "But this time will be different/ Until I try it again," he sings on the latter.

Other gems: Gordon's playful, reggae-tinted, "Sugar Shack," showered with gorgeous vocal harmonies; and sprawling, multi-part prog rock piece "Time Turns Elastic." Joy, indeed.

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