About Will Phalen
For Will Phalen, it’s about writing songs with depth and feeling. But Phalen doesn’t stop there. He takes his lyrics and his melodies and surrounds them with textures and sounds that move the music far beyond “the guy with the guitar on the stool.”
“If you knock on my front door,
I’ll let you in.
If you’re ringing my doorbell,
just ring it again.
If you tap on my windowpane,
climb on in.
I know what you’ve been seeking,
I’ll be your friend.”
It is with those words that Midwestern songwriter/producer Will Phalen begins his new full length ‘The Dirt and the Air and the Grass.’ They are an invitation, welcoming us into a world of storytelling and sonic horizons. A world firmly built upon the folk rock foundations of Phalen’s earlier work, but also touched by another set of colors: bold strokes of ambient bliss; vocal harmonies that transport us through the mind of Brian Wilson, across the Atlantic and into the studios at Abbey Road circa 1965; lush drones and a pedal steel guitar flash us back to the collaborations of Lanois and Eno; symphonic strings sing out across a valley of noise before returning us to the lonely tones of an acoustic guitar. And all this is driven by the dynamic, electric pulse of Phalen’s new band of collaborators as they push him and his songs into a new and intrepid musical landscape.
With a careful ear to the lyrics, we find this is not just an album of tunes, but a collection of stories. “Shadow People” tells the true tale of a woman in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who waits out night after dark northern night watching for the return of extra-terrestrials. In “The Saw Song,” we witness the eerie confession of a serial stalker hidden behind the facade of a Byrds-y pop tune. We hear a dying woman’s final whispers as she looks back on her life and prepares to be reunited with her deceased husband in “You Best Be There.” And the album’s title track paints the stark but serene picture of a world where we have “nothing left but the dirt and the air and the grass.”