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Phil Royal — Waiting for the Light
(Mega Dodo Billywitch B1011, 2022, CD / LP / DL)

by Henry Schneider, Published 2022-12-25

Waiting for the Light Cover art

Aging Liverpudlian Phil Royal left home as a teenager in the 60s to join the hippy movement and over the years has experienced a number of different lifestyles and locations (Liverpool, Ireland, London, Lincolnshire, France, Devon, and Scotland). He now resides in Kintyre after a fledgling career in law and politics, running his own small consulting practice. Over the years, he wrote down his most memorable experiences, which caught the attention of Icarus Peel and led to this new album Waiting for the Light. Phil provides the lyrics and spoken word recitation, referring to recreational drug use or criticism of organized religion and Christianity, which some people may find offensive. Icarus Peel (vocals, guitar, compositions, arrangements, etc.) and compatriots Crystal Jacqueline (vocals), Mordecai Smyth (Mellotron, electric piano), Jay Robertson (drums), Andy Budge (bass), Nigel Wayne (sax), and The Crystal Sisters (backing vocals) provide a brilliantly trippy listening experience. The seventeen songs run the gamut of psych, acid folk, and prog music, embodying the 60s vibe. A brief rundown of songs is the impact of aging on “Innocence,” setting sails for the land of dreams on “Road to Glory,” a psychedelic brain transformation on “Acid,” a memory of comic book artist Bob Powell on “Flung,” asking the question where are you going on “Kiss,” an ode to friends Nizzer and Bob on “Bridge Street,” an out-of-body experience on “Wild Rhythms,” being at the center of the universe on the title track, a recasting of the classic “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” on “Hippy,” an inner journey taken alone on “Mum and Dad,” a close encounter with aliens on “More Trouble,” sexual jealousy on “We Play,” past mistakes on “Regrets,” rejecting wise words on “Keith,” denying original sin on “Heaven and Hell,” looking back at innocence on “Innocence Redux,” and end of messages on “Calling Time.” I did not really know what to expect before hearing this album, though the cover art implied a retro experience. Waiting for the Light is an extremely strong album, made so by Icarus Peel’s extraordinary skill at capturing the essence of the hippy movement and accompanying Royal’s poetry. Personal favorites are the title track with its shimmering textures and dreamy ambiance evoking Procol Harum’s “Song for a Dreamer,” and “More Trouble” with its abstract cosmic journey that morphs into a wild psych jam with heavy organ, electric guitar, and Icarus and Crystal Jacqueline on vocals. Quite an enjoyable trip indeed!

Filed under: New releases, 2022 releases

Related artist(s): Crystal Jacqueline (Bourne), Mordecai Smyth, Icarus Peel, The Honey Pot, Phil Royal

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