Under a Second Moon
2017 / Ageless Records
Review by Kathy Parsons
Under a Second Moon is the sixth release from composer and multi-instrumentalist Holland Phillips and his third album in the past three years. Phillips is a classically-trained musician who earned a degree in Music Composition. In addition to focusing on music therapy and how sounds affect the human body, he also learned to play most of the orchestral instruments to better understand their characteristics. After graduation, Phillips spent a number of years touring with southern and classic rock bands throughout the midwest and Canada. With these diverse musical roots, it is no wonder that Phillips’ original music incorporates a broad range of musical styles and genres. Phillips composed the eleven tracks on the album and performs on pianos, synths and guitars; Paul Christensen provides sax on several tracks.
I enjoyed reading about the origin of the title for the album. It follows the theme of a fantasy novel Phillips wrote, but Under a Second Moon is also “that place that you can go, the place that’s only real in your own head; that mystical place where anything is possible and dreams are the fields that you play in.” Then Phillips discovered that we actually do live under a second moon, one that scientists discovered only a few years ago - “for now, we are all part of a magical moment in time where we live and dream and work under two moons, and explore our life’s journey in the company of both.” Interesting!
The album begins with “Out of the Frying Pan,” which features Paul Christensen on sax as well as a variety of keyboards and orchestral sounds. Mysterious and magical, it’s an intriguing opener! “Taking The Road Not Taken” has a buoyant feeling of anticipation and adventure. “Possibly Maybe” is more relaxed with a gently swaying rhythm. Piano, percussion, wordless vocals, and other synth instrumentation create a lovely piece that is simple, smooth and very effective. The title song has Christensen in the lead with his passionate, soulful sax. A favorite, I love the drama of this one! I also really like “Love Comes Gently” and how easily it evokes images of a romantic slow dance. My favorite track on the album is “Long Way Home” which has more of a rock influence. The driving beat and bittersweet melody come to life with keyboards, percussion and electric guitars as well as haunting vocals. I think I could listen to this one all day! “Deepening Skies” is perhaps the most orchestrated piece on the album with piano, flute, strings, horns and more. Relaxed yet also on the melancholy side, it’s a beauty! “It Comes To This” expresses powerful emotions with its beautiful melody. Played mostly on piano backed with keyboard and strings, there are dreamy moments to soften the more passionate passages. “Fairytale Nights” is peaceful and soothing with just a touch of magic (there are no witches or dragons in this one!), and brings this excellent album to a close.
Under a Second Moon is varied in styles yet holds together really well as cohesive album. It is available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended!
August 18, 2017