PHILLIP PHILLIPS The World From the Side of the Moon
Producer Gregg Wattenberg
19 Entertainment/Interscope Records
Release Date Nov. 19
At the beginning of his major-label debut, "The World From the Side of the Moon," season 11 "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips laments, "It's hard to know where I stand." He certainly has reason to. Like most "Idol" winners, the Georgia-born singer/songwriter was treated as a blank canvas, judged on skill at the expense of identity. Even Phillips' coronation song, "Home," aligned him with the Mumford & Sons nu-folk movement.
He continues that path here on "Gone, Gone, Gone" and "Can't Go Wrong," but the album actually plays out more like the year's second-best Dave Matthews Band release. Working primarily with producer Gregg Wattenberg (O.A.R., Train), Phillips displays that same Southern jam inclination, driving "Hold On," "Tell Me a Story," the gentle "Wanted Is Love" and especially "Get Up Get Down" with acoustic guitar and percolating dynamics and sonic enhancements (plenty of strings). Phillips even has the same kind of throaty timbre and a tendency to roll his r's like Matthews. But Phillips sounds natural enough within that style, more acolyte than imitator, which makes the album one of the more engaging champion debuts in the show's inconsistent history.