Phosphorescent Here’s To Taking It Easy
It’s been a steady march for Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck. With each album, he puts another few paces between himself and the bedroom—where his 2007 breakthrough Pride was born—and sidles that much closer to the bright lights of the big stage. At the same time, the Brooklyn-based alt-folk musician seems to be making a gradual return to his Alabama roots. So while last year’s To Willie found Houck covering old Western tunes backed by a ragtag band, Here’s To Taking It Easy plays like a veteran work. The Phosphorescent sound—a typically gossamer thing that revels in spare moments and reverbed vocals—is bulked up with Houck’s full-time lineup, a change that’s heard immediately with album opener “It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama).” Blazing horns boost the macho outlaw country, giving Houck an unusually upbeat platform for his rickety, unaffected voice. Newfound confidence pours from the song and out onto the others, so that even the sleepier “We’ll Be Here Soon” sounds expansive and purposeful alongside lush numbers like “The Mermaid Parade.” Houck embraces his medium wholly, crafting big, Neil Young-checking, Southern-fried songs about classic topics—love, heaven, Los Angeles. Only “Hej, Me I’m Light” brings to mind the Phosphorescent of yore, but the track’s looped percussion and chant-like vocals, which would have been a highlight of 2005’s Aw Come Aw Wry, here sound like interlude for something considerably greater.