Having sat on this album for some considerable time it’s become like a comfort rug to me when required. If you know the story behind this collection of songs, put together by the very modest Phildel, then you’ll know anything can be achieved if you set your mind to it. ‘The Disappearance Of The Girl‘ has been over four years in the making and it’s certainly benefited from it. Hats off then to her label Decca Records for allowing the interaction between the artist and producer Ross Cullum culminating in such a wonderful collection of songs here.
The title track ‘The Disappearance Of The Girl‘ has a laid back almost lullaby beat to it cemented by a delicately laced string arrangement. Topped by Phildel’s unique vocals that make such lyrics “…if I could persuade you …. you know he betrays you … this much as he saves you“. In stark contrast ‘Storm Song‘ shunts off slowly for you at first and then picks up speed and turns into a monster of a song. She manages to show a full vocal range of her voice and far from being a banshee as mentioned. No wonder this was chosen as the lead single. The plucked notes of ‘Mistake‘ announce its beginning and without warning it steps up several gears with her voice not phased by this sudden shift. Just as your ears adjust to it so once again it returns to it’s previously slower pace, a song that certainly grows on you.
‘Moonsea‘ could be her James Bond theme tune if they ever need a cool title for a film. The vocals seem to emit from a tannoy system then flow into a dream like state when she launches into “I’ll be back of your mind and I’ll be at the front of the line“. It has this immense echoing percussion sound mixed up with a harpsichord keyboard effect sweeping up behind. Always tipped to be a single, ‘Beside You‘, is just a piece of pure elegance, sung so beautifully. The added strings and the layered backing vocals step up the album a notch. Next up for me is the pearl in shell in the shape of ‘Union Stone‘, a song if sung by Kate Bush would have the world’s press in raptures. This is a musicians piece of music with every note crisp and shiny led by the grand piano throughout. The song just builds momentum as it progresses with angelic backing vocals to add the icing on the cake.
Phildel returns to colder themes with ‘Afraid Of The Dark‘ which is possibly her strongest vocal performance on the album. The production by Ross’ gives the song a fuller cacophony of sounds that eases through your senses. ‘Wolf‘ continues the darker side of her childhood as she explores the struggle she had with her oppressive step-father. But like a Grimm fairytale, she will have a happy ending. Whereas ‘Switchblade‘ demonstrates again the brilliant use of silence within parts of this track. Essentially this is her voice and piano a place where she’s so comfortable with here.
Originally named ‘Coffin Nails‘ back in 2008 this has metamorphosed into the sumptuous ‘Holes In Your Coffin‘. It’s matured and she’s really nailed it and her words “nothing less will do“, say it all. ‘Dare‘ is a ballad with its innocence intact but every now and then the rising piano chords shows she wants to breakout of her comfort zone. The album concludes with the hymn like ‘Funeral Bell‘ with such soothing gospel overtones. It’s almost as if she’s finally released herself from her childhood torture and turned into this charismatic and fun person of today who’s created this fantasy world.
It’s been harder to review this album than any other I’ve written about previously and remain objective. This is due to the fact I’ve known her for many years now and have seen her nurture these songs from the demos. Saying that with such an array of treasures within I doubt I will hear a better album released in 2013, I hope you think so too! 9.5/10.