With his pure vocals and good looks, Brian Douglas Phillips is like a one-man version of Rascal Flatts. You know, if Rascal Flatts ever departed from their hideous brand of mawkish soft rock and decided to sing the stuff that real country music is made of: love gone wrong, violent death, sin, and salvation. Bullets & Bones, Phillips’ first full length release, covers all of these topics in a neat little package of Southern Gothic, right down to the disturbing spoken word tale of abuse and murder unearthed from who knows where. High point of the album is “New Body Boogie,” a track that makes the eternal hereafter sound like a pretty good time: “Angels gonna sing / Gonna shuffle and shake their robes/ I can boogie all the old and agin’ / From my bones”. At times the music is so crystal clear that it belies the dark lyrics; a little more rawness would be nice, if only to keep some of the arrangements from sounding like open mic night in a church basement somewhere. That being said, this is still a solid collection of songs, and with a few more years under his belt, Brian Douglas Phillips should become a musical force to be reckoned with.
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