Philip James Turner & The Crow Mandala: Bright Lights

by Sarah Groth

Welcome to the album you never knew you needed in your life. Before I explain why, let me introduce you to the seven member indie band, Philip James Turner & The Crow Mandala, and their new album, Bright Lights. During the spring of 2017, this upbeat nine track album was produced by Louis Day at Papillon Studios in Lancaster. Bright Lights is now available and worth your full and undivided attention.

The first track, “Trading Cards” is a flirtatious song with a muse composed of simple human attraction. While the drums, guitar and piano carry on a lively, alluring tempo, Turner’s voice rivets with a hint of vulnerability and confidence revealed in lines such as, “And all I want to do is fall down with you.” Turner’s tone is full of vexation and regret in this next track, “Sister”. You can truly sense his anguish over losing his sibling to a man he doesn’t deem worthy by the way his voice becomes rough and strained in the lines, “Oh and they say it’s not my fault, but I really feel I could’ve helped her.” Entering at 1:55, the trumpet contributes to the singer’s distress by accenting each note with a frenzied exasperation. “Unimpressive Romance” cues in instruments (piano, guitar, drums and trumpet) one at a time with an adrenalized tempo right from the introduction. This song evinces such a strong and vibrant energy that it might just replace your next cup of coffee.

If your mood is in need of uplifting, “Giant Lung” is surely your medicine of choice. It is a rarity to find a song that expresses continuous optimism and hope while climbing out of life’s downfalls. This song is motivating, inspiring and beautifully arranged with tenacious ebullient beats to improve anyone’s spirits. The notes Turner hangs onto in, “Mama Was A Bird” sounds as if he is hanging on for dear life. Which he soulfully alludes to in the lyrics, “I wanted to die, but I met me a good girl and she saved my life.” Though, instrumentally this song has a potent upbeat and carefree presence, Turner doesn’t fear away from delivering words with a darker depth.

A unique characteristic in the song, “White Horses” is the way the drums begin and end this track resembling the pulse of a beating heart. Similar to “Unimpressive Romance”, the instruments are initiated at different times, adding to the songs intensity measure by measure. An alike quality “What Did I Come Here For” shares with the prior track is how the introduction remains the same as the conclusion by repeating the line, “I was trying not to notice”. Unfortunately, there are a few moments the instruments overpower Turner’s vocals, making it difficult to decipher some of his lyrics. “Here’s to Time” is pure jazz and rock’n’roll fuel. The electric guitar and drums exhilaratingly drive the rhyme onward as the higher range back up vocals compliment Turner’s voice wonderfully. Perhaps the best song on the album, “Bright Lights” is a perfect blend of relaxing jazz and indie vibes. Aside from Turner’s lovely vocals, the stunning electric guitar solo deserves to be heard.

Tempted to check Bright Lights out for yourself? Don’t make yourself wait much longer because Philip James Turner & The Crow Mandala’s new album is seemingly impossible to disappoint. Now, excuse me while I go listen to this album on repeat for the rest of eternity.

Rating: 8.9/10

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