I could make a droll comment about The Raft ferrying me happily across the Mersey with this bright, sparkling double EP release but that would be too easy and trite. I guess I’ve already let that one slip out, but in all seriousness, this release, from Liverpudlian singer/songwriter Phil Wilson collaborating with producer JPedro, contains all the essential ingredients of a sweet, melancholic anthemic pop classic that makes your pulse race and your mind wander.
Opening track on “A Lullaby”, “So High”, is a prime example and a stand out song. Crystal clear chiming guitars, a layered slow build up to an explosive chorus and soaring harmonies. “No She’s Alone” benefits from some twangy intricate guitar and a gliding verse – a smooth bubbling tune. This EP ends with a 7 minute long “A Lullaby/Nobody’s Daughter”, starting as a more contemplative ballad illustrating Wilson’s vocal range and harmonies that ends in a cataclysmic build up, soaring sky high.
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The “Coming Up For Air” EP has four tracks and continues the gorgeous melodic harmonies with its opening track, “Glad I Don’t Know”. It’s has that mellow summer feel with a bitter sweet undertow. Title track, “Coming Up For Air” is more sombre, piano driven dealing with personal survival. “Anarchy in Our Guitars” is a yearning song about dreams: ‘…we could be a couple of stars with anarchy in our guitars’.
Closing track, “Regrets” is another stand out – an emotional tour de force with gorgeous instrumentation and a rousing chorus:
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Both EPs have sparkling production and a glorious brightness with a dreamlike instrumentation. Is there a scouse style? Listening to The Raft, I can’t help but think of fellow Liverpudlian luminaries like The Las, Cast and even the Lightning Seeds: harmony driven chiming crystalline dream pop songs. Writing as The Raft, Wilson has been releasing music since his debut album in 2003 and its a back catalogue I look forward to visiting. You can find his music here. You’ll be hearing a lot more from The Raft: a deal has just been done with American label ‘Dut Dut Dut Dut’ to release an album in 2018.