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Singer-songwriter Phillip Marino was raised in America’s Mid-West but six years ago he swopped the state of Illinois for Essex, England. Despite the miles between the two, his finely tuned music remains very much rooted in the former. His latest effort, a 5-track EP entitled Days Like These was produced by the Felice Brothers' leader, Simon Felice and recorded in New York's Catskills. Simone Felice does a sterling job, and with his brother James Felice (also of the Felice Brothers) adding his playing skill on one instrument (piano, organ, accordion, synthesizer) or other on all five songs complemented by Simone on drums and percussion, Mountain John on bass, plus harmony vocals from Anna Sauchuk and the Felice boys his top-quality songwriting is given the platform deserved. Each and every song is a study, and with his voice possessing, when needed a world-weary feel (“Long Road”); to go with that of wonderful melodious timbre the release is first class all the way.
“Everybody Know” gets the album off to a wonderful start, and with everything falling into place the vocals and playing (and harmony vocals) merge seamlessly. And it gets better. For “Hand Grenade” is given the ammunition to fly, and boy it does just that! Wrapped in accordion, guitar, percussion and finely toned harmonies Marino speaks of how he was never at home in his skin, and had pulled the pin ('running from his sins'). Title track “Days Like These” has him rustle up a more urgent rhythm, and it works perfectly (with wurlitzer in the mix it is a real crowd pleasers), while with him going out on a limb and explore “Hero” has an atmospheric feel. But it isn’t a time to throw caution to the wind in a bid to be brave, but a time to stay, and face up to the feelings of his heart and come to terms with his emotions. A most daunting task.
Days like These comes after two full-length albums, it could be viewed as a stopgap before he gets more songs written for another full-length album. His previous efforts of Self-Made Man in 2014, and Nothin And Everything in 2015 came after Marino’s decade plus of learning guitar and the art of songwriting. Something he was exposed to at a young age (Dylan, Jim Croce, Simon & Garfunkel etc and his greatest influence, John Mellencamp) and return to years later. I for one are glad that he did.
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