Redeemed (album) by Phil Gammage

Phil Gammage’s album, Redeemed, is comprised of simple folk songs. Gammage sings these ten songs over mostly acoustic instrumentation, including saloon piano and lonesome harmonica. It’s a gentle, but honest, selection of songs.

One called “Right On” has a title that reads like something out of the ‘70s. That was a phrase often uttered in place of the churchier ‘amen.’ With it, Gammage sings a song detailing the good and evil of daily life. Gammage is a storyteller, and all of his songs put his vocals and the lyrics upfront. He wants to be sure listeners hear his every word. For instance, “Woman in the Window,” which tells the tale of an especially lonely woman, features Gammage taking the lone vocal on the verses, but joined by a female singer during the choruses. Gammage is also accompanied by some tasty, twangy electric guitar on it.

For the album’s title cut – speaking of churchy – there is organ accompanying Gammage. Gammage begins by telling us how the devil is waiting at his door, which foreshadows evil afoot. For this song’s chorus, there is a choir of backing singers, acting as sort of a church choir. It’s a spiritually themed song, given a church-associated arrangement. “I will be redeemed,” goes this song’s hopeful chorus. It also includes a subtle rock electric guitar part.

Twangy electric guitar returns for “Johnny Lee,” which rides into town like a western movie song. This track is a wonderful country-ish song and should please anyone that appreciates old-styled country music. The album’s first truly slow song is one named “Messages from the Grave.” Gammage sings it in a smooth tone. He’s mostly backed by keyboard instrumentation. There isn’t any of the usual twangy guitar on it. The next one, “Prisoner of Love” is equally slow. Gammage vocalizes it just as sadly, as churchy organ returns to the arrangement. It’s a little strange to call oneself a prisoner of love. How can being in love be described as a prison experience? Don’t we all want to fall in love and stay in love? Certainly nobody wants to willingly be locked up in a prison cell, right? I’d hate to be the ‘prison guard’ in this relationship, that’s for sure.

Gammage’s ‘prison’ blues are followed by an upbeat instrumental titled “Phil’s Boogie.” It’s a rocking little electric guitar tune. It has a fine, steady beat, as well as some really fine electric guitar work. This number simply sounds like a studio jam tune. Get the beat going, and let the guitarist just take it away.

The album closes with the relaxed, easygoing and languid “The Rain.” It’s a song that sounds a little like a George Harrison ballad with (or after) the Beatles. Gammage’s vocal is light and sung in a higher register. It’s all about a future meeting with a girl, which takes place in the rain. It’s a short, sweet, nice way to close out the album.

Phil Gammage reveals multiple sides to his musical personality with Redeemed. These sides reveal themselves a little at a time, which makes listening to this album a rewarding and unfolding experience.

-Dan MacIntosh