If there was ever a road map for the evolution of music put into one single songwriter, you’d be hard pressed to find a reference more obvious than Bill O’Sullivan. Having released albums with the psychedelic rock group Eggnog, O’Sullivan took his grungy vocals and musical vision and settled into an acoustic album; creating an evolutionary vision of musical progression, in a hauntingly delightful way.
Oddly addicting and sure to snag your attention from the beginning, similar to what we saw with Days of the New, Phillip’s Head maintains dignity and honesty as it descends into a conceptual spiral of insanity. Pardon the crude reference, you’ll find no “Touch, Peel and Stand,” but you will find a strangely fascinating post-grunge acoustic album that resonates in your mind long after it’s over.
True to grunge, Phillip’s Head maintains simplistic riffs with deep hypnotic lyrics. Floating in on a solemn acoustic guitar lick, “Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes” leads off the album with resonating power. Just him and his guitar, O’Sullivan creates an almost folk-grunge experience. The intimate, rough edged delivery feels like you’re in the studio with him. “Near You Lies” seemingly perks up the record. That is until you listen closely and hear the longing vocals like “I meet the end of my deepest hole.” The eleven tracks are deceptively light in melody as we venture down the road of Phillip to “Summit.” The tale of a dying man gradually losing his mind is disturbingly catchy. The sliding guitar scratches and the often ominous vocals fit perfectly into the macabre story. Without over producing the tracks, O’Sullivan hand delivers a very memorable record.
I’m incredibly surprised to find that I’m so entwined in Phillip’s Head’s story. If Layne Staley were alive and playing in the dark recesses of Seattle coffee shops, this sound would be the result. But he’s not and the evolution of psychedelic to grunge to Phillip’s Head is well worth taking notice. It is impressively crafted and surprisingly addicting. As if out of the woodwork, Bill O’Sullivan has taken simplicity and grace, woven it into a dirge filled, murky masterpiece of top quality singing/songwriting and laid it for the world to discover.