Back in 2001, Neil Finn got a group of friends together for a series of charity concerts. The assembled included Eddie Vedder, Johnny Marr, Tim Finn, Ed O”™Brien and Phil Selway, and from this series of concerts the album 7 Worlds Collide was spawned. Last year Neil Finn once again assembled his friends for another musical collaboration, using 7 Worlds Collide as the name for the project. Many of the same musicians from the first album returned for the second outing, and this time the result was the album The Sun Came Out. One of the things this album was notable for was the singing debut of Radiohead drummer Phil Selway on the tracks The Ties That Bind Us and Witching Hour.
Obviously encouraged by these recordings,Â Philip Selway has become the latest Radiohead member to embark on a solo project and has released his debut solo album Familial. Differing from the style of Radiohead and the solo projects of fellow band mates Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, Familial is a more modest, acoustic, sometimes even folky, album.
The first thing to note about this album is that Phil Selway can actually sing. It”™s a simple, unassuming voice that is never strained but full of emotion. Selway writes songs that are obviously from the heart with lyrics concerning loss and sadness and the desire to protect one”™s family from the world and the mistakes we can make. The lyrics are at times extremely personal and you sometimes feel that this was an album Selway needed to write as much as wanted to.
Throughout the album the main accompaniment is a simple acoustic guitar but there is also some unobtrusive percussion provided by Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche,Â whose easy touches are at times barely noticeable, but at others provide standout counter points or unexpected flourishes that help move the album beyond the basic singer/songwriter feel.
But it is the clean, crisp vocals that standout as the main focal point for the album, which is a brave move for someone who is famous for being the drummer in one of the largest bands in the world. Maybe it”™s the association with Radiohead that has led this album to be released under Selway”™s full name, Philip, in an attempt to prevent comparisons with his previous work. However, regardless of the direction this solo project was going to take, there were always going to be such comparisons both to Radiohead’s work and to the solo work of the other Radiohead members however unfair that may be.
The Radiohead name alone will mean that fans will giveÂ Familial a listen, but the fact is Selway has produced an album of simple beauty that should be considered on its own merits. Vastly different to the sound Selway normally creates, this is a debut to be proud of – the songwriting, while very personal, shows great potential and the refined approach will hopefully open the eyes of some people to this more subtle, reserved style of music.