Mr D is back with a ten track album of original songs ably backed by a few friends and family and indeed a choir at one point! The style of the CD is everything we have come expect from Phil Doleman. His own unique brand of musical cheer leaps from the speakers, that old time vintage blues seasoning sprinkled respectfully across a sharp modern recording.
Phil’s song writing always put a smile on my face and the opening track, No Biscuits In My Gravy, joyfully reaffirms that pattern. The stage is eagerly set with a brisk tempo featuring umpah bass, jaw harp, siren whistle and a beautifully nifty ukulele solo followed by a spotlight on the spoons no less. The successive title track is then a lesson in playing the jug and kazoo. The latter device can often sound so terrible yet Phil even manages to add his sparkle to this simplest of instruments. The biscuit theme returns in King Biscuit Time which features some dexterous bass playing and lively 5 string banjo producing a creamy smooth riff, his roaring blues vocal adding authentic grit to the arrangement. Indeed the vocals of Whisky In My Bottle go further still and add a vintage microphone effect to the voice while a sweet little harmonica provides the hook. Shining Cliff then dispenses with vocals altogether in a delightful instrumental piece, perhaps my favourite track of the album. I’m a sucker for some lap steel too which makes its debut on Wednesday Night excitedly welcome. Indeed I could listen to that solo all day so it’s rather pleasing to hear the instrument reappear on the next track too, a gentle waltz called You Should Have A Drink.
The album features a number of guest contributions from familiar surnames such as Bartle and Doleman. Many of these culminate on the penultimate track You Either Care Or You Don’t. The track introduces a simple tight drum beat with a brass bass and decorative motif and yes dear reader, the aforementioned choir makes its appearance all of which adds a jubilantly smart aura to a lumbering New Orleans vibe. We are then played out with a short and final refrain arranged for ukulele, voice and glockenspiel, a perfect conclusion to our ride through Phil’s nostalgic world.
It’s not as if you really need this humble reviewer to tell you Phil Doleman has done it again. However for the sake of clarity, Phil Doleman has done it again. His devilishly catchy vintage style is terrifically entertaining and every nuance from his vast instrumental palette is perfectly placed. It swings, it makes you grin, it’s crisp, it’s clever and it’s his best release to date.
This review originally appeared in issue 17 of UKE Magazine.