First of all let me say that I was introduced to Phoenix Drive from their former manager through artist showcases they did around Nashville. Each time I saw the band I was very impressed not only with their very positive attitude but also their have amazing vocals, harmonies, songwriting and playing ability. This band is no joke in any shape of the word. This is probably my favorite country band I have ever seen that didn’t already have a major record deal.
The CD “A Fool’s Melody” is a tour de force of melodic hooks and strong songwriting. The band has two lead singers in Jon Scott and Felicity Combs that have a pure vocal ability and the vocal harmonies all blend superbly together. Every musician is very solid which you expect in Nashville, but live I feel this band executes better as a unit than any other and sonically their tones and EQ are always nearly perfect and that comes through on this effort as everything is crystal clear, full of energy and has “live” feel to it. The CD has nine incredible songs and none of them suffer from lack of attention in my opinion. This is a complete CD with no filler tracks like I hear from a lot of country artists. Each track is melodic and feels like everything is exactly where it is supposed to be. I don’t feel any typical “Nashville” sound emanating from this CD in either its songwriting or production, which separates it from so many other releases.
The bright spots on the CD are hard for me to pick out as all the songs are really that good, but that being said “High Time, Trouble Down, She Ain’t Coming Home and A Fool’s Melody” are the strongest singles in my estimation. This CD in no way feels like a debut CD to me. It’s mature, well thought out and knows exactly when to lay back or let it all hang out.
“High Time” is an upbeat ditty that opens with a catchy acoustic riff and then into big vocals that remind me of Alabama’s greatness. Jon Scott provides a soulful vocal quality and with Felicity providing delightful drop of singing and their harmonies shine through in a big way. The energy in this song is infectious and you will be tapping your toes all the way through.
“Trouble Down” is Felicity’s time to shine. She has a gorgeous voice that makes you want to melt. This song is a sultry tune that gives a back woods feel with the pacing and instrumentation. The impact this song has live especially when the chorus kicks in is magical and it comes through here as well. This is one of my favorite songs of 2012 by far.
“She Ain’t Coming Home” is a mid tempo song that features Jon’s lead vocals again and the verse beautifully sets up the chorus. I love how they layered Jon’s and Felicity’s vocals through out the verse sections. The chorus is a great hook that grabs you and won’t let go.
“A Fool’s Melody” features a cool guitar intro and let me tell you guitarist Chris Combs can play. Combs is definitely one of my favorite undiscovered guitar players in any genre. The drums are played with brushes with a laid back vocal from Jon and Felicity but yet the tempo is upbeat with a great guitar line underneath to separate the vocal sections.
The band rounds out with Brian Powers on bass and background vocals who is a very capable player and singer in his own right and recent addition David Rollins on drums with adds the backbone and pocket needed. David is a veteran player with great chops and presence.
This is what a modern country CD should be. It gives a nod to its classic country roots but is modern with a fresh feel and not a pop CD like Taylor Swift or what so many people have gone for to get radio success. There is no doubt this is a country band but with a strong cross over appeal. Any of the four tracks I mentioned could, should and would be radio hits if the funding was behind it. A well done musical effort that should be on every country fans iPod.
5 out of 5 stars.
You can find out more about Phoenix Drive here: www.phoenixdrive.net