Eilis Phillips – Master Fiend
Eilis Phillips - Master Fiend

Quite by accident, I found the perfect place to listen to this EP and that happens to be the back garden of my girlfriend’s flat with seagull’s squawking overhead, a small but determined stream babbling away in the background and the faint smell of the sea on the warm breeze. You see, Belfast’s finest songstress Eilis Philipps creates what I would call elemental music that opts for sounds rather than definable instruments and can change your mood without you even realising it.

The four tracks presented on Master Fiend kick off with the suitably ethereal ‘Avalon’ which swirls and floats around your ears like a feather on the breeze. Then Ms Phillips’ voice glides in which is part Dolly Parton and part Karen Carpenter but with the production qualities of a modern day diva. It’s a spirited and spiritual start to this collection and nods at the various and wondrous delights that this chanteuse has seen within her life but that’s another story for another time. Second track ‘Haole’ is a more mainstream acoustic strum-along and is perfectly pleasant but, for me, not the stand out track here. Interestingly though, it did lead me to discover that ‘haole‘ is a Hawaaiin word for Caucasians or foreigners that dates back to the times of Captain James Cook – it’s educational this blogging lark. Title track ‘Master Fiend’ comes next and has a homely, mid-west American feel to it that makes me imagine somebody getting on a Greyhound bus and leaning against the window watching the rain drops roll down the glass mirroring the tears on their face. You know, the kind of video some director would come up with when faced with the challenge of producing a video for a song full of genuine emotion when he’s never felt a thing in his life.

It is final track, ‘I’m Right Here’, however that not only displays Eilis Phillips’ songwriting ability but also here astounding voice. Imagine, if you will, that Laura Marling has a turn for the religious and writes herself a beautifully crafted but sparse hymn. Then imagine that she befriends some waif on the streets who just so happens to be the hybrid daughter of Annie Lennox and Florence Welch. Finally, Laura and the waif (band name?) get together to record said hymn in an abandoned church surrounded by candles and snow. Essentially, that is ‘I’m Right Here’ and essentially it is beautiful. All in all, this EP shows the talent and range of an artist that seems to be putting out music because she can but I get the impression that there is more to come from Eilis Phillips if she decides to stretch herself. Here’s hoping she does but in the meantime I'm going to stay sitting my this stream, you're welcome to join me but can you bring me a cuppa when you do? Ta.

For more information, visit her official website