With “Drift Back” Phillip Phillips Goes Back to His Roots

There is an unshakable, heartbreaking sadness permeating Phillip Phillips’ most recent album, Drift Back. Released June 9, this is Phillips’ fourth album and his first in 5 years. 

It’s difficult to believe that half a decade separates Collateral (2018) and this album, but to listen to Drift Back is to understand the passing of time and the changes — and sometimes sorrow— it leaves behind. 

It’s a natural process: growing up, facing the challenges that life brings, our youthful innocence and optimism tested by reality and disillusionment. In Drift Back, Phillip does that mainly through the lens of love, exploring what early love, mature love, and love that is ending look like, but also, the resilience of love and what fighting for it demands from us. 

The album opens with the previously released “Dancing With Your Shadows,” an 80s-infused pop-rock song that explores dark subject matter over an addictive uptempo beat. In numerous interviews and posts he shared at the time the song came out, Phillip explained that the song was dedicated to his wife Hannah B. Phillips. The song speaks about the frustration one feels at being unable to help a loved one going through a difficult time. In the case of Phillip, this was his inability to help Hannah with recurrent health issues.

It’s an impeccable introduction to the sound of the album: musically restrained and efficient; warm but sharply recorded and produced. This is how much of the album can be described. Whereas in all his previous albums Phillip had given ample space to experimentation (songs like “Thicket” in Beyond the Light or “Sand Castles” or “I Dare You” in Collateral), in Drift Back he streamlines his songwriting to the essential, focusing of the lyrics and the best way to deliver them unencumbered.

That is one surprising aspect of Drift Back. Another is the revelation, which Phillip made recently during a radio show, that this is an independently released album. 

Phillip released his first three albums with Interscope Records under 19 Recordings. The road has been less than smooth for Phillip in the last 10 years and his relationship with the music industry and his label has been complicated. Throughout it all, a few things have been clear: Phillip’s absolute discretion, his unwavering artistic integrity, and his incredible grit, courage, and determination. 

Drift Back seems to capture thematically and musically some of these same characteristics, especially in how, despite the valleys and shadows of the relationships he describes in many of the songs, the ultimate message is of fighting for love until the last breath. 

It’s the vivid fight of “Over,” where one person pleads with the other ‘don’t say is over’ or the devastating lyrics of “Love Come Back To Me,” where he seems to speak directly at Love and ask it ‘Love, you don’t come around, are you missing?’ or the starkly painful line, ‘I wanna be back there. Can we get back there. Cause I won’t let this be the way it ends’  in “Calm Before the Storm.”

If the sadness is at times heavy and dark, the sound of the album is unmistakable Phillip: crisp and warm, comforting and familiar. Phillip’s signature acoustic guitar riffs are enhanced by discreet electric guitars, synths, driving drums, and on one occasion, in the closer “So Will I,” a soulful saxophone. Unlike Phillip’s previous albums, where the experimental songwriting and arrangement seemed to be more on the forefront, musically, Drift Back is more subtle. Headphones are these songs’ best friend. 

Another signature sound that is very present in the album is the cello, recorded by longtime friend and collaborator Dave Eggar, who has been working with Phillip since his debut. And it’s Eggar’s contribution that moves some of the songs into the more cinematic or narrative songwriting style that Phillip has displayed in the past. The best example of this is the magnificent “Calm Before the Storm,” (co-written by Phillip and Quinn Lewis) where Eggar’s cello is the foundation for the literal musical storm we hear in the chorus of the song and where even Phillip’s voice seems to come through us through the echo of stormy winds. 

Drift Back was produced by Todd Clark and Tim Bruns, two veteran songwriters Phillip has a long history with. Todd Clark has worked with Phillip since his debut album, helping co-write numerous songs over the last eleven years (“Gone Gone Gone,” “Raging Fire,” and “Fly” among many others). For his part, Tim Bruns co-wrote one of Phillip’s most personal songs, “Dance With Me,” which served as Phillip and Hannah’s wedding song in 2015.  

While each song deserves a special mention, “Strangers,” Phillip’s first official collaboration as part of his own album, shines musically and lyrically.  With its bright country flavour, haunting melody, and new collaborator Caitlyn Smith’s superb vocals, this song is a wonderful departure for Phillip in this new phase of musical exploration. Drift Back was recorded entirely in Nashville, a city that has increasingly played a role in Phillip’s musical direction in the last several years. This song seems to perfectly encompass that modern country-pop Nashville sound. 

After so much heartbreak, the album ends in a bright and hopeful tone with “So Will I,” a brilliant pop-rock song about unconditional love. The song captures the spirit of a declaration shouted out loud from the rooftops; it’s the renewal of a commitment to live fiercely and to overcome doubt and darkness by truly sharing our life with one another. It’s my favourite song in the album, the kind you can imagine singing out loud, arms raised in unison with thousands of others during a show. Perhaps it’s because I personally have experienced the lowest and darkest sides of sadness and depression that this song resonates so strongly for me. It tells me it is worth fighting for love and life. 

In a recent interview, Phillip explained that this is a fully indie record and that as such, he had complete artistic control of the music, the songs selected as singles (he didn’t fully say it but implied it), and even the creation of the cover art of the album. This is an extraordinary achievement by Phillip, a musician whose career has teetered uneasily between a desire for artistic integrity and the demands of a cynical music industry from the very start. His origin story, being the winner of the most mainstream and popular music show in America, was the start of that uneasiness.

Despite it all, Phillip navigated this divide beautifully in all his previous albums. Now with Drift Back, he is announcing a new chapter, one where he gracefully and maturely “drifts back” to his origins as a songwriter and guitar player whose love of music drove him to pursue his wildest dreams and take huge risks while doing it. 

“You cut like colours in the half-light” Phillip sings in “Before I Loved You.” With Drift Back, Phillip’s voice cuts like colours through the noise to deliver an album tempered by experience, love, and life.


It’s Phillip Phillips’ Summer and We’re Here for It

Phillip Phillips’ new album Drift Back, is coming out in a mere 12 days on June 9. His first in 5 years, the album will also be the first since becoming a dad and going through the global trauma of the pandemic. 

In preparation, Phillip has been ramping up in activities, releasing 4 songs from the album in 4 months, “Dancing With Your Shadows,”  “Love Come Back to Me,” “Before I Loved You,” and “So Will I.” This is in addition to “Love Like That,” which he released in April 2022. 

He has not yet shared the tracklist of Drift Back, but this could very well be close to half of the songs on a full-length album.  

Overall, the themes of the songs have been about love, not the butterflies in the stomach kind, but the mature, complex relationships that test us and make us question ourselves and our love; the trials of relationships and the limitations of love. Moving and very personal, the songs naturally hint at the growth Phillip has experienced as a musician and a person in the last five years. 

Watch the videos for Dancing With Your Shadows and Before I Loved You.” Read our reviews of Dancing With Your Shadows and Love Come Back to Me.” 

As part of his promotional activities, Phillip has also done a number of interviews to announce his upcoming album. 

He talked to People Magazine in April in an exclusive, candid interview and appeared in the Songfacts Podcasts through a warm, long conversation. More recently, he appeared in a short, but great sit-down interview on ABC News. 

On May 10, Phillip also announced a four-date mini-tour called “The Drift Back Sessions,” going from June 15 to June 23, plus his debut at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville and a few other one-off shows. Check out the stops and dates (announced so far) on his official site here.

Phillip has also been doing a great series of videos on his YouTube channel, sort of like an extension of his Tik Tok videos. Check them out here if you haven’t or if you still haven’t made your way to that app (like me).

Finally, Phillip will be performing at this year’s Memorial Day Concert in Washington, DC tomorrow, Sunday, May 28th.  The concert will be live-streamed on PBS’ website. You can watch it here!

It’s a lot to catch up to and we’re sure much more it’s to come from Phillip. We can’t wait for June 9th and what will surely be the summer of Phillip Phillips! What a time to be a fan! 


Phillip Phillips’ New Album Collateral Is Finally Out

Just before midnight on January 19, Phillip Phillips’ new album Collateral was finally released. The celebration from fans across social media has been non-stop, and as of this writing the album is sitting at #12 on the iTunes overall album charts. Phillip shared a beautiful message with fans just before the album dropped reflecting on the struggles and triumphs of the last few years:

“Gonna rest peacefully tonight. I did what was right. Good things happen if you work hard at what you believe in. There are going to be struggles. Fight. Get up & live YOUR life. Listen to it. Feel it. Go with your gut. Thank you for the support & staying with me. Now let’s go!”

And again this morning, Phillip shared a very special video talking about what the release of this album means to him.

Phillip wasted no time to get things going promoting the album, performing “Dance With Me” and “Into The Wild” from Collateral on Fox News early Friday. Errol Cooney, guitar player extraordinaire and a constant musical companion to Phillips in the early years, made a surprise appearance alongside Phillip. Take a look at Phillip and Errol performing “Into The Wild” below!

Don’t wait one more minute to get it, Collateral is available everywhere!

Featured Photo: Jesse DeFlorio

One Week to the Release of Collateral, Phillip Phillips Gives Us Into The Wild

Are you ready? Really ready?
Phillip Phillips has released “Into the Wild,” the closing song from Collateral ahead of the album’s full release next week on January 19.

By far our favourite of the four songs Phillip has released officially, “Into the Wild” is a rousing love song featuring an opening electric guitar that morphs into the most uplifting riff, deep booming drums, and soaring vocals by Phillip. The lyrics evoke a love that is exciting and mysterious, the kind that causes delicious butterflies in your stomach with its promise of adventure, and maybe a little danger. Listening, I was immediately reminded of that feeling you get when you walk into nature that overtakes you with its grandiose, awesome scale — wild, untameable, sublimely beautiful. Its anthemic chorus (and bridge?) is to be sung out loud, hands stretched high into a summer night sky by an ecstatic audience. I predict many such moments in Phillip’s future tours.

I did not think it was possible for us to love a song more than “Miles,” but this is Phillip Phillips in 2018, outdoing himself with each new bit of music he shares with us. And though it feels completely new, we already had had a taste of this song when Phillip debuted it in July 2016 at the Ravinia Festival. The recording on the album achieves something wonderful which is to make the song sound quite open and spacious, and not overly sweet despite having such a feel-good, uplifting melody.

The wait has been long, but it’s just one more week until we get eight more brand new songs from Phillip. We will be “Into the Wild” until then.

If you haven’t yet done so, visit Phillip Phillips’ official site to pre-order Collateral. You can also click here to pre-order or stream Collateral from other digital retailers.
Finally, don’t wait any longer, click here to get tickets to his upcoming Magnetic Tour!

Phillip Phillips Releases New Song Magnetic, Announces New Album and Tour Dates

I apologise if it may take a moment for Phillip Phillips fans to unpack that title, because all at once earlier today Phillip released a new song, announced the title and release date of his third album and a list of new tour dates!

Simply titled Collateral, Phillip’s third album will finally be released into our hands, and the world, on January 19, 2018. Soon after, on February 9th, Phillip will launch his Magnetic Tour across the US where he will be stopping at some amazing venues along the way. If this wasn’t enough, tied in with the announcement was the release of “Magnetic,” a song Phillip debuted on tour last year. Both “Magnetic” and the album announcement were accompanied by their covers. And though they are quite different in their approach, they do both feature striking images of Phillip with his guitar.

It has been quite a different experience to listen to the studio version of Phillip’s new singles “Miles” and now “Magnetic;” both of which were performed heavily during his summer tour and even earlier shows. Whereas at a show the energy of a song is magnified by the volume, the venue’s acoustics, the crowd, and obviously the presence of the musicians, listening through your headphones to a studio version is about intimacy and the discovery of musical detail and musical choices.

From the start “Magnetic” was a fan favourite, in large part thanks to its mid-tempo, instant sing-along-ability. Though the studio version is not a huge departure from the version we heard live, I was still surprised by a lot of things when I first listened to it: the bright horns opening the song, the beautiful sound of the bass and drums, that extremely well-placed guitar, and a cool effect I still have not been able to figure out. Still the best surprise is at the end, a great bit of backing vocals, by a female singer, which definitely is a departure for Phillip. This is a phenomenal recording in my opinion, and I had goosebumps all over when the full band came in the first time and Phillip’s voice soared effortlessly on the chorus. Also, there is no more avoiding it, this song is dripping in sexiness: it’s a lush, intense, sensual musical metaphor of being near that person who is simply magnetic to us, from the lyrics (“pushing and pulling me”) right to that ending with those battling (in this case) male and female vocals. Also, Phillip’s voice has never sounded more amazing.

I am so happy and excited to hear who “the new Phillip” is (as per his words) on his new album; thankfully today we know we won’t have to wait that much longer.

Follow the links below to get “Magnetic,” pre-order the new album, and see all the tour dates!

Buy or stream Magnetic.
Pre-order Collateral.
And check out the dates for the Magnetic Tour here.