Review taken from FIREWORKS Magazine issue #6, by Phil Ashcroft
PHIL VINCENT – CIRCULAR LOGIC (Song Haus)
Phil Vincent’s career is like a Chinese banquet, before you’ve had the chance to swallow one course here comes the waiter with the next one! The prolific American multi-instrumentalist allegedly has an album finished before the previous one’s hit the streets, but this time he’s even outdone previous efforts by delivering a double album containing two hours of music just 8 months after his last album, ‘Tragic’.
Featuring 10 songs on each disc, ‘Circular Logic’ has given Phil the opportunity to stretch out a little more in various directions, and has resulted in his strongest album to date. The catchy riffs and vibrant keyboard fills are still there, but it’s in the little departures that the main strength of this album lies with Phil wearing some of his influences on his sleeve. Everyone from Journey to Pink Floyd and all points inbetween go to make up an album of great depth and diversity. Another change is he’s hired a rhythm section for this one, and no offence to Phil’s abilities on those instruments but bassist Glenn Cipalone and especially drummer Dirk Phillips have not only performed very well, but also given Phil the space to concentrate on other things.
There are the usual elements like the heavy guitar riffs on songs like ‘Rise Up’, ‘Too Far Gone’ and ‘Take It Away’, but on a lot of songs the keys are even more prominent than before, like the intros to ‘Tupelo Drive’ and the 10 minute epic, ‘If’. On ‘Torn’ his admiration for The Beatles comes out and the song also features a nice guitar solo from Michael Reisenbeck. When making notes for this review I put an asterisk next to anything I thought was particularly good. I ended up with 11 from 20, and the other 9 are pretty good too, but the Aldo Nova/Jeff Cannata strains of ‘Time In, Time Out’ and ‘If You Ever Want Me’ are feelgood AOR at it’s best. Talking of Cannata, I think it’s him that Phil’s voice reminds me of, although he does have a tendency to try to sing too high on the rockier tracks, especially the openers on each disc. His voice is a bit of an acquired taste anyway, but for the most part he makes the best use of what he’s got. Other highlights are the pompy and bombastic ‘Long Hard Look’, the ballad ‘Second Chance’ which is just vocals and layers of keys, and the aggressive but melodic ‘Almost Home’. The two epic songs, ‘If’ and ‘3.45am’, are the most mature and adventurous things he’s ever attempted with different parts and time changes, the film soundtrack type intro to the latter even puts me in mind of Giuffria’s ‘The Awakening’. There’s an instrumental on the second disc called ‘Another Hit & Run’ that’s pure pomp, and is a sequel to the slow and moody ‘Hit & Run’ from the first disc, and shows yet another side to Phil that I’d like to see him explore more. Despite the diversity on show it’s the catchy hard rock with punchy keyboard stabs that Phil excels at, and if you want to know what he’s about just check out a 4 song sequence on disc 2. It starts with the riffy ‘Shining Through’, then continues with ‘In The Balance’ and the hooky ‘Doin’ My Best’, up to the quality melodic rock of ‘Heart Of Stone’.
Along with the continuing improvement of his writing and playing this is his best produced album to date, with a powerful compressed guitar sound, live sounding drums, and those big keyboards. A job well done! Phil, you’ve earned a break! Well maybe not.