Eleven After Midnight
2021 / Ageless Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Eleven After Midnight is award-winning multi-instrumentalist/composer Holland Phillips' tenth album to date and consists of eleven original pieces that were composed in the hours between midnight and dawn - the times that Holland feels the most awake and creative. This is the seventh album of Holland's that I've reviewed, starting with his 2015 release, Daydream Alley, and I've thoroughly enjoyed them all. Holland's music incorporates a variety of music genres that include new age, jazz, pop, space and contemporary classical to create a unique sound. A modern-day one-man-band, he performs on pianos, synths, guitars and flutes to create a richly layered style all his own. Videos for nine of the eleven pieces are being released on Vevo every two weeks between August 20 and early December 2021, deepening the meaning of the music that inspired each video. The videos can also be viewed on YouTube.
Holland Phillips describes the album as: "... probably also influenced by the pandemic times where we all became more isolated, solitary and wary than we were before. During that time I also realized that to keep on going with some sort of positive outlook it was important to periodically reflect on what we still have, what we can be, and what we can look forward to. As a result this set of songs is decidedly more thought-provoking, deeper, and more focused on life's positive vibrations than any album I've done to date." As difficult as the past year and a half have been, it is truly amazing to hear how the pandemic has brought out the best in so many artists, this album included.
Eleven After Midnight begins with "Lights Off," a gentle piece for piano, synth strings, guitar and flute. Very calming and peaceful, several passages of the piece shimmer like stars on a blackened sky. "All That We Are" is both reflective and uplifting. Slow, open and very smooth, it's a favorite that leans toward the ambient side. "That Distant Horizon" expresses a sense of optimism and the joy of setting goals, no matter how lofty or far away they are. "Stranger Dreams" is another favorite. Composed after experiencing one of those dreams that just don't make sense, this one is livelier and has a strong beat. The lead instruments this time are a nylon acoustic guitar, an electric guitar and a grand piano. "Wolf Moon Rising" was created at the end of the 2020 Wolf Moon, one of the brightest full moons Holland had ever seen. Piano, bass guitar and synth strings paint a picture of the brilliance of that moon and the glowing landscape beneath it - gorgeous and very peaceful. "Landing On Mars" is ambient with a rock beat, mysterious and, well, spacey! The title track is something of a patchwork quilt depicting different aspects of nighttime, from bold and majestic to quiet and peaceful - and even a little spooky. These themes unfold seamlessly with a variety of orchestration and instrumentation, creating a fascinating piece. "Calling Us Home" refers to childhood memories of a neighbor who used a very distinctive whistle to let the kids know it was time to come (or go) home. Nostalgic and just a bit haunting, it's another favorite. "At Night's End" is a very appropriate closing with its relaxed pace and gently soothing melody.
Eleven After Midnight is available on Amazon, AppleMusic/iTunes and streaming sites such as Spotify. Check it out!
September 20, 2021