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Album Review: Daydream Alley
Holland Phillips
Cover image of the album Daydream Alley by Holland Phillips
Daydream Alley
Holland Phillips
2015 / Ageless Records
54 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Daydream Alley is multi-instrumentalist Holland Phillips’ fourth album, but a first for me. Utilizing a broad range of keyboards and synthesizers, old and new, Phillips very convincingly demonstrates why so many composer/musicians who think outside the box are increasingly assigned the “new age” category. I’m not saying that Phillips’ music doesn’t fit the genre, but there is such a wide variety of styles in his music that these twelve tracks really don’t fit into any “box” - and hallelujah for that! Phillips started piano lessons at a few years old and guitar at 8. The son of a music teacher who always had an assortment of instruments around the house, he enjoyed experimenting with and creating music with these instruments and learned to play many musical styles as he grew up. As a music major in college, he immersed himself in classical music. Required to compose symphonies and other orchestrations, he learned as much about each instrument as he could, including their playable ranges and the unique characteristics of each. As a result, the parts he creates for those instruments on keyboards and synths are convincing and “natural” sounding. Holland also enjoys the sounds of synths themselves and takes full advantage of their versatility.

Daydream Alley begins with “Etude in D Minor,” a haunting yet rhythmic piece that would work in film noir or as a sultry slow dance - an intriguing start! “Two Pianos” is a piano duet that also includes bass and strings. The more fully-orchestrated “Serendipity” has a strong backbeat and a light, easy-going melody. “Jazz Night” is a favorite with a bluesy piano in the lead backed by sax, drums, bass and strings. I love the title track and its bittersweet slow groove. “Changing Times” refers to the constantly-changing time signature of the piece (it changes for each phrase). I really like the drama and intensity of this one along with the almost magical quality of the instrumentation! On the lighter side is the buoyant and joyful “Friends,” truly a celebration of the best that life has to offer! “Reflexions” utilizes a harpsichord sound and a steady tempo to give it something of an 18th century classical feel. I hear more than a little influence from JS Bach in this one - as charming as it is beautiful! Trumpet, flute and strings flesh it out to a full richness that I’m sure ol’ JS would appreciate. “Colors” was named for its “broad palette” and was influenced by the great Alan Parsons (no relation). Sometimes playful and sometimes more serious and graceful, it’s a great closing to a great album!

Daydream Alley is available from musicbyholland.com, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
September 18, 2015
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