Phil Cody - Big Slow Mover

Big Slow Mover

Phil Cody

Tiny Head Records
#213 410 Lincoln Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291 USA

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By David Schultz

He's toured with Warren Zevon, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Pete Droge, Ron Sexsmith, and the Violent Femmes. That mix of styles also permeates Cody's third release Big Slow Mover. After a major label debut, "Sons of Intemperance Offering" (1996) on Interscope Records, "internal policies or vision or whatever you want to call it was changing," says Cody to No Depression. Subsequently, Interscope passed on the album that would eventually become Big Slow Mover. Like many who are shut out by major label decisions, Cody decided to self-release his album.

Interscope should be kicking themselves. Big Slow Mover is a fun, but intelligent, album, intermingling rock, folk, and country.

On the funky Standing Invitation, Cody sings:

Let me tell you what can happen when
You give all yer friends a standing invitation I got a loft on Vandam
It used to be mine
Now its nothin but noise and drink
And people sleepin everywhere."

The final song, Orphan Train" originated when Cody was intrigued by a newspaper article about during the westward expansion across the United States (1854-1929), orphans from the East Coast were transported west for adoption. Cody wonders, as he's watching TV, what would become of them today.

Those mourning the loss of Cat Stevens to the world of Islamic fundamentalism should check out Cody. On several songs, he sounds pretty eerily similar. The most obvious example is the slow acoustic "40 Winks of Sleep," when he sings,

There's nothing, nothing to persuade me
That what I believe ain't right
At the age where trust and confidence are
As unshakable as my dangerous plight.

Another example is If I Needed You, originally written by Townes Van Zandt. Cody's voice harmonizes terrifically with special guest Emmylou Harris. The anthemic Run Out of Town sounds like a cross between Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons and the instrumentation on Opposition Radio is reminiscent of Peter Gabriel. Yet, Cody cites Peter Case as one of his influences, which is a favorable comparison.

To learn even more about Cody, Spencer's Song tells the story of Cody's childhood in Cincinnati, beer-can collecting, joining the Kiss Army, and drinking liquor for the first time. It is told, however, through the eyes of his neighbor and best friend.

Big Slow Mover is produced by Wallflower keyboardist Rami Jaffee and Ethan Johns (Whiskeytown and Chris Stills). Joe Henry and Emmylou Harris provide guest vocals. Big Slow Mover is an exceptionally well-crafted album. Cody's songwriting is engaging, and each song has a different aural feel, so the album holds up after repeated listenings. It comes highly recommended.

Track List:

  • We Could've Had It All
  • Big Slow Mover
  • Opposition Radio
  • Standing Invitation
  • Run Out of Town
  • If I Needed You
  • City of Destruction
  • 40 Winks of Sleep
  • Joyride
  • Wicked Cold Waltz
  • Option Anxiety
  • Spencer's Song
  • Orphan Train

Edited by David N. Pyles

Copyright 2001, Peterborough Folk Music Society and David Schultz.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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