K. Phillips American Girls
March 27, 2012
By Grant Britt
As if Lou Ann Barton, Stubb’s Bar-B-Q and SXSW weren’t enough reasons to get you all whipped up about Austin, here’s one more. K Phillips debut, American Girls, is a greasy mix of Delbert McClinton, The Fabulous Thunderbirds and the Stones, fronted by Paul Thorn. Phillips described his feelings about the musicians assembled for this session as akin to attending rock and roll fantasy camp. That’d include Stones saxman Bobby Keys, Joe Walsh drummer Rick Richards, bassist Jimmy Pettit from the Flatlanders and Soulhat’s (think Allmans and the Dead in a head-on crash with Metallica) guitarist Kevin McKinney. With his band, The Concho Pearls, and as a sideman on piano, Phillips has been tearing around Austin for awhile, but this is his first solo exposure.
Phillips got in touch with his dark side for this outing. American Girls is not a tribute to apple-cheeked Miss America candidates. The females he’s dealing with here are among deadliest of the species. He’s calling these songs character studies, but most of the characters displayed here seem to be lacking any. It’s a dip in the deep end of the white trash gene pool.
“I will kill your boyfriend if he shows up here,” he promises on Rambler, which sounds like an outtake from Exiled on Main Street.“I know it’s his house, but I just don’t care”
“Sheriff’s Wife” is as dark a piece as Steve Earle ever drug up out of the backwoods. “Whar u goin’ tonight?” he slurs in his role as the backwater sheriff interrogating his unfaithful wife before he goes to work. “Sure be a shame if that drug lord found you while I was on patrol,” he whispers menacingly, as the guitar fidgets nervously behind him. “It’d take more than prayers to save your soul.” Woof.
The music, like bar band music with soul, is as uplifting as the lyrics are hellbent. Keys displays a soulful side here he never exposed while blatting out punchlines for the Stones. Check out the King Curtis-style ride he takes on “Kat’s Song.”
“I know that I am still young, and possibly, dumb enough to play the exact kind of undefined music I want to play,” Philips wrote in his blog last year. “I don’t know how my life is going to work out, but I do know I’m going to do exactly what I am passionate about, and nothing less.” Thanks for sharing. Keep it coming.