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Thursday, 28 March 2013

Phildel: The Disappearance Of The Girl review

You may not have heard her name before – but you will almost certainly have heard British songbird Phildel’s voice.

Her songs have featured in a plethora of TV adverts ranging from Marks & Spencer to Persil, and from Apple to Expedia.

No surprise there, because the 28-year-old London singer-songwriter has a voice to die for.

It arrives along that branch of pop’s family tree which runs from Kate Bush via Sarah McLachlan to Imogen Heap.

All of which is remarkable given that Phildel – it’s a blend of her parents’ names Philip and Della – spent a miserable childhood in a fundamentalist family home where music was regarded as the devil’s work.

With no CD player, no radio and no musical instruments in the house for 10 years, Phildel spent lunchtimes tinkling on the school piano. Eventually, at the age of 17, she ran away from home and started writing.

“Music was forbidden,” says the singer, now 28. “My mother’s second husband was a fundamentalist Muslim from Egypt. I came to know silence well.

“I’d escape to the school practice room during lunch breaks, and wrote the songs which now make up my album. I’d continue scribbling down lyrics in secret during the night.”

And what songs they are.

Recorded in the Chilterns, where she now lives, they are both enchanting and chilling. Often an upbeat melody will hide heartbreak in the lyrics; sometimes it’s the other way round.

The title track opener sets an ethereal vocal against skewed strings, a swoon of a song.

Both Beside You and Union Stone confirm the influence that Kate Bush must have had as Phildel caught up on everything she’d missed.

Not that it’s an unnecessarily arty album.

Storm Song is something Sarah McLachlan might want to cover, and Mistakes has all the hallmarks of Adele.

Both The Wolf and Holes In Your Coffin are unashamed electropop romps.

At the close, Funeral Bell is a piece of studio trickery in which an acapella Phildel harmonises with herself, much like Imogen Heap’s Hide And Seek.

This is the most ecelectic chanteuse set since Annie Poe’s Haunted.  Buy it.

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