Upon the release of his first solo album “Familial” in 2010 many wondered which direction Phil Selway would go, would the album be a complete departure from his day job provides the rhythms for Radiohead or would it be an attempt to mirror that band’s sound. He chose to depart from the familiar escorting listeners down the path to a quiet, introspective folk album. Stepping out from the large shadow thrown by that legendary band must have a bit daunting. In the end ”Familial” revealed Selway’s own engaging voice and that he could stand on his own making music that wasn’t a carbon copy of his prior musical commitment. With the release of “Weatherhouse” you can discern an even more confident performer. This time round the release is louder and Phil brings his excellent drumming skills into play, it is a more rhythmically aware album.
Selway has shown he can be relied upon to bring heart felt earnestness to his lyrics and music. The music is like him, an approachable debonair man. His sound is soothing rather than seething, direct, sometimes simple and laden with bittersweet emotion. In contrast to his debut, “Weatherhouse” also serves up a more varied palette, adding techno experimentation, introducing lo-fi electronica but step siding old clichés and maintaining warmth. Adem Ilhan produced and played on the release along with Quinta, a multi instrumentalist, who aided in the production. The disc developed musically first and then the lyrics were added. When addressing how he felt about releasing a second solo, Selway stated, “There’s development from the first one and there is more familiarity in terms of the process of releasing a solo album, so I am feeling a lot more confident this time around.”
That confidence shows on “Coming Up for Air” which is probably the most compatible with the band that provides his full time job. There is a more alienated feeling both lyrically and musically on this track. The drums hit you first and then Selway’s filtered voice whispering, the whole effort is more direct and less tentative. Take note of the great interplay between the guitar and Selway’s pleasing voice. “Around Again” is less orchestrated and has a great jazz influenced feel. Selway’s exceptional percussion skills make for a very vivid song, it dramatically builds to a very satisfying conclusion.
A single tambourine leads into “Let it Go”. Here a trance like vocal and apt drumming interplay with keyboards and a discordant piano coda. Compared to his debut release, this song is much more experimental song less folksy. The lyrics call to mind a post breakup song, “I am over it now as you just walk away.”
The ambient, ” Miles Away” again has this fantastic drumming married to a tonal organ and Selway’s lulling voice. It all creates a dreamlike soundscape. “Ghosts Listening” is more reminiscent of “Familial”, with soothing acoustic guitar and a ethereal atmosphere. My favorite pick of the release is “It Will All End In Tears” a Beatlesque/ Neil Finn type tune. The lyrics are about nostalgia and regret, build to this “Hey Jude” chorus, “Though It will end in tears, I won’t be sorry now.” “It Will End In Tears” is easily the most approachable track on the album. Continuing in that vein “Don’t Go Now” is a beautiful song, truly entering Selway’s wheel house with his recognizable vocal “Don’t go now, stay close, be with me.” The song picks up where “Familial” left off.
“Run to the Light” is a melancholy introspective tune that is fast becoming Phil’s trademark. The acoustic guitar, violin and marimba make for a compelling track. “Waiting for A Sign” is the most up-tempo song in the collection. Selway takes a crack at a Thom Yorke vocal with interesting overdubs, “No body around to get their own way, and your waiting for a sign, the final piece falls into place.” These lyrics are definitely more edgy than on the last release.
“Turning it Inside Out” starts out with discordant violins. The song can be taken so many ways, “sometimes I could leave it all behind, step off and find a place to make a brand new life.” This song could be about personal relationships or something even closer to home professionally.
“Weatherhouse” is full of clarity, emotion and heartfelt lyrics. Less diffidence and more assured, this release is proof of Selway’s development as a solo performer, showing the progression of his confidence to stand alone in the spotlight. The album displays how much he has to offer, both musically and conceptually in whatever manifestation he is involved. “Familial” was a wonderful debut album for Selway. “Weatherhouse” is a great companion release, made even better because of the experimentation and addition of his lauded drumming. A record that offers comfort and is engaging, I give it a solid 7 out of 10. Another brilliant release, well done Mr.Selway!