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Review: Will Phalen's The Dirt and the Air and the Grass

Last week Will Phalen released The Dirt and the Air and the Grass , a record that finds him at home over a more cohesive backdrop, one that caters to his eclectic range. The heart of Phalen's songs rest in his Midwest-Americana roots but their scope touches on everything from pop song-craft sensibilities to plucky folk focused on escaping dour circumstances. The record was recorded over the course of a year, shifting from studio time in Mequon, WI to Chicago, which shows itself in the contrast between the backwood meanderings of Phalen's mind and guitar (“Shed Your Leaves”) and the My Morning Jacket-esque pulses of widely inspired rhythms (“My Blue Eyed Woman”).

The most striking element of The Dirt and the Air and the Grass is Phalen's greater development of atmosphere. Utilizing empty space at essential junctions for added feeling, juxtaposed with his impeccable timing when it comes to turning up his guitar, helps manifest a deeper understanding of Phalen as a song-writer increasingly focused on the intricacies of his sound.

The Dirt and the Air and the Grass is available for purchase on his bandcamp below. 

Director of Digital | Radio Milwaukee