Phil Perry - Breathless (2017)

Phil Perry
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Phil Perry - Breathless

Quality, continuity and a knack for seamless blends of soul and jazz: for decades, as both a group member (of the Montclairs) and a solo artist, Phil Perry has maintained a heady command of his gifts for soundtracks, duets and his own lauded catalogs of covers and original grooves. He's a performer who can reprise melodies of a bygone era yet keep his approach firmly in the now, which is what fans will enjoy and recognize in Perry's latest set, Breathless.

Phil Perry - Breathless

Quality, continuity and a knack for seamless blends of soul and jazz: for decades, as both a group member (of the Montclairs) and a solo artist, Phil Perry has maintained a heady command of his gifts for soundtracks, duets and his own lauded catalogs of covers and original grooves. He's a performer who can reprise melodies of a bygone era yet keep his approach firmly in the now, which is what fans will enjoy and recognize in Perry's latest set, Breathless.

Breathless' tracks are reinterpretations of established hits and a couple of new songs that are familiarly Phil, from the pristine production, to the buttery tonality of Perry's vocals, and lyrics that represent the sliding scale of love and loss. Fred Sawyer and Chris "Big Dog" Davis are back in the lab as co-collaborators, and their collective chemistry can be heard throughout, from the flirtatious mid-tempo title track to the sumptuous and harmony-laden ballad "Heavens Away": "Can I just say to you, hear me as I make my love appeal/and, in my special way, just show you that this love's for real." Only a man with vocal dexterity like Perry's----a virtue that's only enriched and expanded over the course of his career---could convey the mixture of the weathered anguish of The 5th Dimension's "One Less Bell To Answer" yet sound uniquely like himself while delivering on an inimitable Stevie Wonder classic ("Love's In Need of Love Today").

What gives Phil Perry his long-term appeal and loyal fan base is the depth of emotion he conjures up from one moment to the next: "Do What You Gotta Do,” one of the self-penned grooves, is a taut rebuke to divided loyalty, "Nobody But You" is a straight-forward jazzy lovers' ode, and the raw beauty of Perry's tenor coupled with a lone piano in "Moments In The House of Love" is tailor-made for a steamy, candle-lit and bubble-bath ready rendezvous for two. "Never Can Say Goodbye," another Perry original, brims with both anguish and awe at the feelings a rocky union still inspires, raw yet velvety all at once. If nothing else lingers after the fade-out, "Goodbye" is the one that resonates.

Phil Perry's Breathless is not only a sublime stand-alone of a project, but another extraordinary collection from a veteran determined to share his gift of music and the joy in his life that keeps him so inspired in the process. Like a romance novel you can't bear to put down, it's emotional, intoxicating and a powerful piece of work you'll reach for time and again just to get through the day. Or night. Maybe both. Highly Recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
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