9 Dec 2023

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Phil Doublet - Album Review: Journeyman

02 Jun 2022 // A review by Roger Bowie

Phil Doublet is yet another of our unsung heroes in terms of New Zealand musicians plying their trade under the radar. For forty years. And counting.

Some of us know him. I was at the Mataura Falls Hotel in 2019 when he played with Aussie Folk legend Luke O’Shea during Gore’s festival week (it wasn’t known as Tussock Country way back then). Who else was there? None of you, I reckon.

But that’s ok, never too late to make amends for shunning Phil in Mataura. And did I tell you that Phil is world famous in Australia?

Well now, that’s entirely different. And unacceptable. That Phil Doublet is more well known in Australia than at home? Disgraceful, that’s what that is.

But by his own admission, Phil is a low-key guy from Christchurch who hasn’t ventured much further north than Nelson in his musical career. Apart from Europe and Awe-stricken-phalia. He’s a journeyman with journey gaps. So his latest release (number seven-ish) provides us all with a chance to fix that.

Recorded at home. In absolute contrast to a bunch of great albums which have plunged into my stream (it used to be hit my deck) this year and which were recorded in Nashville with or without the artist being physically present, here is an album which was recorded at home, apart from a few file transfers across the metropolis during lockdown. Adding some orchestral flourishes and some production techniques

But for the most part unpolished. Raw. Real. (no disrespect to the sublime Nashville sound). The album's called Journeyman and it’s a doozie. Which means bloody good to the uninitiated.

Brother Tommy sets off on three chords and the truth with a gentle pick and a country-folk flavour as Phil pays tribute to the legendary Tommy Kahi, his boyhood guitar teacher and life coach in New Brighton. Check out Tommy Kahi, there is truly a legend.

And immediately there’s a change in tone, as Phil slides and slips and harps into blues mode, hurry up now, there’s a Hurritrain a comin’.

Next up is, by Phil’s own admission, his song writing peak (so far) as he moves smoothly into bigger country, Stapleton style, with guest vocals from Invercargill’s Simon Thompson adding the man himself into the mix of an anthem-like Interstate of Mind.

Look Up is a song written by Coalrangers Geoff Farmar, and this is another great song where Phil’s vocals come to the fore, older than Lukas, but younger than Willie. “If only the bottle would let me go”. And that’s the thing, Phil is an extraordinary player, as he slips and slides and bends and stretches and bottles down the river of his guitar. But he’s also a very good singer, not in the sense of range and pitch perfection but in terms of emotion and grit.

Mining Town Blues. My god. Already we have a record which is more country than rock, more blues than country, more folk than blues. Genre fluid. Don’t try and put your finger on it, it will flow in another direction. Got to find myself a river. Put a mining town beside it. Dig the dirt. Taste the dirt. Let it flow. Don’t surrender, go with the flow. Those are the terms of My Surrender. Throw some power chords in, some eclectic electric, change key, another country-rock anthem. Top Paddock stuff.

Reverb the voice, raise the temperature, there’s a Small Town Fever on my brow, and I gotta leave this fiddlin’ about and get out of town, with a gospel work gang in hot pursuit. Magic.

More magic with a co-write and guest appearance from the aforementioned Luke O’Shea, with an intro which would traffic Free and any number of southern rock icons. Smoke Rings and Firewater. The Allmans and Skynyrd could have both made this song. But they didn’t. Phil and Luke did.

And to embrace the eclectic and anchor the human, a brief interlude and a walk in the forest, a guitar Waiata, a beautiful reflection of Te Ngahere, replete with birdsong. And The Band Played On, folky tribute and take on the last moments of the Titanic, where the band truly played on to the end, and got their hire-suits wet as they drowned, a debt which the ship-owners called on the families, I kid you not. Dance a jig to the ignominy and inhumanity and disgracefulness of that.

Phil plays, produces and mixes most of this record. Wife Lana (also from Invercargill) chips in with some lyrics, Anton Harris plays real drums and Mike McCarthy way up in Orewa adds some orchestral flourish.

And it’s folk which has the last word and the last world, as Phil welcomes us to The Gateway of the south in order to say farewell to a musical journey which is both enthralling and enchanting. Journey of a man. A Journeyman.

A journeyman is a worker, skilled in a given building trade or craft, who has successfully completed an official apprenticeship qualification. (Wikipedia)

Phil Doublet is no longer a journeyman…….. he’s a one-man masterclass. Check out Journeyman on Bandcamp and look out for it later this month on Spotify and iTunes.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )

About Phil Doublet

Phil is a multi award-winning artist/musician and is no stranger to the music scene for just over 3 decades. He has been playing in bands since the tender age of 11 and became sort after as a session player and more recently in the last 6 years as a Producer for recording projects from Europe, U.S.A, Australia and New Zealand. Not to mention as a solo performer.
Phil is a staunch advocate for original music in Christchurch by starting the Songwriters in the round shows

Phil is the 2014 NZCMA Country male artist of the year.
Phil has 5 charted albums to his credit. Stone and Wood and was a finalist for Recorded music NZ Best Country Album of the year 2017 and finalist at the VFNZ Music Awards Best Country Artist 2017 for his second album Endless Highway. His third album Strength, Love, Music & Light was #1 on IMNZ album charts and a finalist for recorded music NZ Country Album of the Year 2018 and #1 single with Prayin’ for Rain.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Phil Doublet


The Journeyman
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Year: 2021
Type: EP
Three Crows
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Strength, Love, Music & Light
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Endless Highway
Year: 2016
Type: Album
Stone & Wood
Year: 2013
Type: Album

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