Singer-songwriter Nick Phoenix released his new album, Wide World late this past Spring through independent record label Downtown Music. The 11-song record is a mostly successful new collection of neo-Americana works with some very deeply emotional lyrical themes. One of the most notable of the record’s songs comes late in its run in the form of ‘Which Side You’re On.’ This track will be examined shortly. ‘Always On,’ which comes early in the album, is another notable addition to the presentation and will be examined a little later. ‘Tumblin’ Down,’ which comes just past the record’s midpoint, is another notable entry here. It will also be examined later. Each song noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album overall a work that any Americana fan will appreciate.
Wide World, the new album from independent singer-songwriter Nick Phoenix, is a record that will find wide appeal among Americana fans. Yes, that awful pun was intended. The record will appeal to his targeted fans from beginning to end with each of its 11 total songs, not the least of which is the late entry, ‘Which Side You’re On.’ The song’s musical arrangement is one part of what makes it so notable. The pairing of the guitar and piano along with Phoenix’s distinct smoky sounding vocal delivery makes the arrangement so rich in its semi-brooding sense. Audiences can argue that there’s a sense of melancholy, to be more specific, about the arrangement. That applies even in the equally rich solos that are exhibited more than once in the four minute-plus composition.
The sense of melancholy established through the song’s musical arrangement is of note because it helps to enhance the impact of the song’s lyrical theme. The theme in this case comes across as that of taking pride in who one is, not letting one’s self let external factors shape who one is. That is inferred right from the song’s lead verse and chorus in which Phoenix sings, “I know it’s providence/I know your ships won’t burn…It’s just a war of words/No one ever said that/You were alone/You’re coming back twice as strong/Doesn’t really matter which side you’re on/I covered the facts/You were wrong/Doesn’t really matter which side you’re on.” There is one point in that lead verse that is difficult to decipher sans lyrics, but enough is understandable that this comes across as a subject who is trying to encourage someone else, telling that person that he/she will be okay and will come back, grown from facing adversity. Phoenix continues in the song’s second verse, “You’ve been the bad wolf/You ate the chickens…you’re gonna try for that/You can’t invent the rules/No one ever said that/You were alone/You’re coming back/Twice as strong/Doesn’t really matter/Which side you’re on/I covered the facts/ You were wrong/Doesn’t really matter which side you’re on.” Yet again, this seems like a commentary of sorts about people being people and simply ignoring those people and living life. That is, again, just this critic’s interpretation. If in fact it is the correct interpretation, then it goes without saying it is an original way to address a familiar topic. The mention of getting in a lifeboat and being “a sidenote”, reminding the listener that despite that “you’ll come back twice as strong” is even more of that seeming motivation. Again, this is all this critic’s interpretation. The melancholy mood set through the song’s arrangement helps to put listeners in the shoes of the person to whom the subject is speaking, making for even more connection for listeners. To that end, the song in whole proves itself a strong addition to the album and just one of the record’s most notable works. ‘Always On’ is yet another notable entry in this presentation.
‘Always On’ presents a musical arrangement that is subdued and contemplative in its nature. The melancholy mood that it sets through its dual guitar approach and familiar rhythmic pattern from the drums. The guitar solo that comes late in the song’s run is a full-on classic rock performance even in its subtlety that will certainly engage and entertain audiences. The mood set here works well with the song’s seeming lyrical theme.
The seeming lyrical theme features here is that of someone who knows that he worries constantly, yet through it all has that someone there to help him get through it all and put up with his nonstop negativity. The mood in the song’s musical arrangement serves to illustrate the feelings going through the subject’s mind as he is saying those words to that other person. It makes for its own share of interest and in turn makes the song stand out even more. It is just one more of the songs that makes Wide World appealing. ‘Tumblin’ Down’ is yet another notable addition to the album.
‘Tumblin’ Down’ presents an arrangement that is completely unlike those of its counterparts throughout the album. Right from the opening, the simple guitar line, vocals, and drums present something of a neo-classic rock vibe that shows influences of The Beatles while still boasting its own identity. On another hand, audiences can just as easily argue that there is an influence from Tom Petty here, too. Those listeners would be right, too. Having influence from two of the greatest and most respected acts in modern music history says a lot. That Phoenix uses those influences to craft a song that stands on its own merits in the process makes for even more respect for him and this arrangement. It works with the song’s lyrical content to make for even more overall engagement and entertainment.
The lyrical content here is sure to generate its own share of interest. Phoenix sings early on of seeing how good it is outside, but not being able to manage, and basically feeling like everything around is “tumbling down.” The declaration that “You wanted to win/So you wagered it all/Now you’ve gotta make it up” adds to the message here. It almost comes across as Phoenix saying here that people put themselves into negative situations. That is, of course, just this critic’s interpretation of the bigger picture here. If in fact that is the case with the theme here, then the contrast of that to the mood set through the arrangement makes for even more interest. To that end, it becomes another clear example of what makes Wide World worth hearing. When this song is considered along with the others examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes Wide World a welcome addition to this year’s field of new Americana records.
Wide World, the new album from Nick Phoenix, is a work that most Americana finds will agree is worth hearing. That is proven from start to end thanks to its musical and lyrical content alike. All three of the songs examined here make that clear. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s songs, the whole makes the album overall a work that will appeal to a wide range of audiences.
Wide World is available now. More information on the album is available along with all of Nick Phoenix’s latest news at: