That this was produced and engineered by Matt Angus at first lent an expectation of more than is actually present. In fact, Angus' work may be creditable for most of the CD's virtues, as Phillips, though a good singer, is irrescuably standard, nearly every note a stamp press of a million previous discs by country's all and sundry. In fact, the closest comparison might be the wavelength range Kim Carnes carried for much of her catalogue, where a few really nice songs outsizedly punctuated a roster of highly formulaic numbers. Phillips' voice, though, is'nt the whiskey-soaked sandpaper that Carnes' is but rather in the Emmylou Harris school…the Emmylou who does so well as a background singer but not as a solo, mass repute to the contrary.
The band's well-versed—loaded up with alumni from Hot Tuna, Spin Doctors, Waylon, Willie, and other sessions—but also safe and far too vanilla, cloning the sound to a commercial high gloss. One track is much the same as another, and Philips' voice shows few surprises, rare highs and lows. The listener keeps hoping for a stand-out track hidden away somewhere, but that blessing is not forthcoming, save perhaps for Everything is Different, a jazz-inflected blueser that may well indicate her true direction. The vocals stand out more there, and the sparser instrumental environment forces a much more satisfying personal expression, not merely a voice bouncing off accompaniment.
Sleep is a skosh Stevie Nicks-ish, not the best example to emulate, but Phillips' MOR rock side comes out clearly within it, nor is the band quite so sophisticatedly goat-roping. The lyrics are way too twee, but Anthony Krizan's brief middle-eight guitar line rescues things temporarily...atop an anthemic quality that's vaguely Til Tuesday-ish.
Nonetheless, two songs do not a release make. There may or may not be better things in store for the future but "Carries You Away" foreshadows little, one way or the other.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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