People like to think that I know everything about the Pop Rock scene and I don't know nearly as much as I'm given credit for and here's proof. I completely missed this on its June release. I'm thankful to my great friend Nick Fletcher for pointing me in the right direction. Nick now lives in Sweden, I miss him and am more than a little envious of him not having to put up with the mess and nonsense that the UK has become in the past 6 years or so.
Chicago's Phil Angotti could be described as a veteran, but that wouldn't do him justice as Once Around Again shows a freshness not usually expected on a 13th album. He has lost none of the pop sensibility that marks him ahead of the crowd. I've mentioned that there is a promising breed of younger Singer Songwriters reaching through, but Angotti is a reminder that there is still talent from the established. I rate him in the same way that I rate him in the same way that I rate Michael Penn and Jason Falkner.
The difference is that Phil has released new material, something the other two promise, but to date don't deliver. Angotti is chirpier than those two performance wise and has lost none of that joy, but he takes a slightly different approach on this album. Working with JK Harrison adding instrumentation and Blair Holmes on Drums, there seems more of a Trio feel and Harrison brings this out in the production, as well as adding some delightful String Arrangements.
The album ends very differently than it starts underlining the variety displayed. Mystery Street is a splendid storytelling opener with a haunting riff fighting to raise the tempo and it is eventually allowed to let rip. Compare that to the two songs that to the two closers. Masked Men & April Fools and No Words (Once Again) have a real Country sound due to the wonderful addition of Pedal Steel Guitar from Brian Wilkie. The latter has a fine arrangement on what is essentially McCartney Pop.
Shy Violet is more in line with the Power Pop that Angotti is more noted for, Squeeze like at times. Mr. Harris Tweed is great 60s Pastoral Pop, a little Small Faces, a little Kinks in style if not sound. Priscilla verges on Rockabilly and For Anyone heads towards an even jollier Roddy Frame. Eye For An Eye is a wonderful melancholic heartbreaker of a song, Torch song confessional in style. Out of kilter with the rest of the album with an ace String Arrangement. It is astounding.
There is just so much here to like and admire. Angotti's vocal lends itself to the chipper, even when singing something lyrically sad as on Better Side. I expected nothing less than great from Once Around Again but this has excelled even that. A shining beacon in a slightly dark world, music does have the power to transcend all and here is proof.
You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about Phil Angotti here.
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