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CD REVIEW: Phil Ayoub - Arrivals & Departures
By Cyrus Rhodes - 04/19/2011 - 10:15 PM EDT

Artist: Phil Ayoub
Album: Arrivals & Departures
Label: Independent Artist
Website: http://www.philayoub.com
Genre: Acoustic Rock, Singer-Songwriter
Sounds Like: John Mayer, Gin Blossoms, Jackson Browne
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: Get out, Thank you for Bringing me Home, Tara’s Birthday
Weakness: Mix
CD Review:

Boston native Phil Ayoub releases his debut CD entitled Arrivals & Departures in 2010. The CD title was inspired while Ayoub was waiting for planes, baggage, waiting t security checkpoints & Takeoff

The CD quickly takes flight with “The Bearded Lady” a full tilt rocking guitar groove that serves up driving rock rhythm against slamming solo guitar & well placed harmonies from Ayoub. Track 2 “Get out (Live a Little, Love a Lot) keeps thing moving in the right direction with its steady flowing rhythm, hooky chorus, clever lyrical content & straight forward vocal passion from Ayoub. Track 3 “Basement” shifts gears a bit with its delicate acoustic guitar intro, eventually lending itself into an impressive ballad that flows & ebbs its way through to emotional fruition.  The CD makes a great first impression dishing out 3 solid songs in a row. I would classify this music as classic Americana with strong melody. Also along the way you will find flashes of Americana, rock & roll, R&B, & Power Pop. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive slide guitar accents, harmonica, Hammond Organ chops, accordion, piano, amazing harmonies, & keyboard accents layered everywhere. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Now turning our attention over to Ayoub. As for his vocal abilities, his voice works extremely well within the confines of this catalog. Ayoub knows how to push the emotional envelope well, but he also knows how to sit deep within the pocket & sing a song with amazing fluidity. His voice goes down smooth & fills the space peacefully & unobtrusively with a vibrato that reminds me of Paul Simon, Bob Dylan & at times even Jon Bon Jovi. The music reminds me of classic acts like the Gin Blossoms, John Mayer, David Grey, & Jackson Browne. All songs are well crafted & consistent across the board. This CD from Phil Ayoub delivers 13 solid tracks. From upbeat “Flowers at Work” & “Body Language” to heartfelt “Goodnight Romeo” to grooving “Ray of Light” & passionate “Tara’s Birthday” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “32 Memory Lane” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.

The biggest problem with this CD is not Ayoub himself, not the performances, not the songs – it’s the mix which lacks dynamics & creativity. I’m just not a big fan of this mix. To me – it’s sounds weak & a thin sounding lacking solid low end punch & crystal clear hi-end clarity. I also don’t like how the vocals sit within the mix. Because of this they are buried by all the secondary’s – thus failing to grab the listener. Ayoub himself should be pushed up within the mix for the sake of commercial value & marketability. At the end of the day this production has a lackluster production quality to it. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. It’s fair to say Track 6 is a bit over the top.

From start to finish Arrivals & Departures by Phil Avoub is an impressive musical collection of music. The music is grooving, upbeat, & entertaining. The songwriting – all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. The writing, playing & singing abilities of Phil Ayoub & his band are rock solid, the melodies & harmonies are masterful, & the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with clever with & rich conventional wisdom & messages full of hope. Last but not least the vocal presence & persona of Phil Ayoub is something that leaves a lasting impression.




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