Holland Phillips has a unique ability to capture the magic in everyday moments. He makes us see the world with new eyes and each of his albums is like a journey. Last year’s “A Presence of Three Minds” is a voyage “From The Depths” and all the way “To The Heavens”. This year’s “A Momentary Pause” takes us from “Upon Awakening” to “Bedtime Prayers”. It truly is a day to remember. Phillips has delivered a melodic and highly optimistic release that deserves to be on several “best of 2020” lists.
The album will be released tomorrow, August 28, 2020.
Holland Phillips began playing guitar and piano at age five, then following that up with a degree in Music Composition. Holland used his college time to analyze the classical masters, improve his piano and guitar skills, and focus on music therapy and how sounds affect the human body. His most recent albums are “Daydream Alley” (2015), “Circles of 8” (2016), “Under a Second Moon” (2017), “Leaning Toward Home” (2018). About his 2019 album “A Presence of Three Minds” we wrote that: “Just like a good book, its atmosphere is something you take with you – long after the album has ended. Holland Phillips is one of the finest artists on the New Age music scene today.”
The album opener is called “Upon Awakening”. Sharp synth strings serve as a wakeup call. It is a representation of how it feels wakening up from a pleasant dream realizing that the day doesn’t look too bad either. As usual, Phillips’ selection of analog synths is superb; the lead instruments all sound divine. The light rhythm is also lovely. I also like how the piece develops. The day is looking better and better, and the groggy feeling of wakening up is just a dim memory as the last note is playing.
“Whispers” is a piano piece, wonderfully backed by strings and trumpet. It is one of those rare melodies you can “feel” just as much as hear – like a warm whisper in your ear. It has a triumphant touch, giving the impression that we have heard something important. A secret declaration of love, perhaps?
Our Sweeter Days
There is, as I wrote above, a literary quality to Phillips’ music that makes it multi-dimensional. “Our Sweeter Days” is like a well-told novel about life, love and years gone by. If you listen carefully, you can sense both the everyday challenges and the love that made it all worthwhile. It is quite remarkable, and a statement of how gifted this artist is. Close your eyes, and you can relive cherished memories. It is all there in the music.
At this stage, the mood changes. “Stepping Stones” is a contemplative piece – and a gift to all lovers of analog synths. The violin lead is a favorite of mine, and Phillips uses it to perfection. The Rhodes piano also sounds phenomenal. The piece makes us reflect on what it means to seize an opportunity and how life is a set of stepping stones. You get further, or you fall. It is that simple.
Dreaming On Ice
I love this part of the album! The music is upbeat and heartwarming, perfect for an evening in front of the fireplace with the people you love. “Dreaming On Ice” is nicely backed by a steel-string guitar. The melody is breathtakingly beautiful. If anyone reading is looking for background music for an ice skating event, look no further. “Dreaming On Ice” is a jewel!
An old joke says: “What do you get when you play New Age music backward? New Age music.” While that, according to our research, might be true – “Palindrome” sounds best when you listen from start to finish. It captures the magic of numbers and sequences that reads the same backward as forward.
Study In Patterns
At this stage, we are rewarded with an orchestral piece. I love how “Study In Patterns” takes us from a simple state (just a piano) to something that sounds like a complete orchestra – illustrating patterns that become more and more complex as the song develops. It would be interesting to make a music video for this, that’s for sure. Everyone loves patterns; they are so visual. I’m happy to report that the same goes for “Study In Patterns”.
The night is near when “Casting Shadows” comes on. It is an easygoing flute piece with a bubbly rhythm. It is impossible to feel sad while listening to it. The title track is dreamy and reflective. It seems to underline the importance of taking a break and see things from a new perspective, especially at the end of the day. “A Momentary Pause” is as moving as it is satisfying. The album finale “Bedtime Prayers” takes us down memory lane, to prayers in a loving and comfortable environment – before the day is over. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself looking for the replay button at this stage. A brand new day is waiting for you, “Upon Awakening”.
In conclusion: Holland Phillips’ “A Momentary Pause” is brimming with well-crafted melodies, stories and optimism. “Our Sweeter Days” and “Dreaming On Ice” are among the best New Age music pieces released in 2020.
Whenever you need a break from your day, put on “A Momentary Pause” and enjoy its effects. You will not regret it, guaranteed.
Score: 96/100 – See our scoring policy
For more information and music samples, visit musicbyholland.com