- John Joseph Brill
As the evening summer sun cascades over Leaf, the perfect ambience is set for one of the 90s most prestigious singer/songwriters, GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS. Grant Lee Buffalo, the band for which the singer gained most of his renown, were a band known for their slightly off-kilter, sweet pop ballads due to Phillips’ Neil Young-influenced vocal work.
Support comes from the extremely talented JOHN JOSEPH BRILL, a bearded sigil, with a rich warmth oozing from his smooth, melancholic baritone voice. Brill, who dropped his heart-warming debut Pieces back in January is climbing the ladder of recognition. The local is certainly making a name for himself, after gaining airtime on BBC Radio 1 to boost the acclaim following his EP’s release.
He assuredly takes to the stage accompanied only by guitar and keys, and serenades the audience with stripped-back renditions of his record, along with freshly pressed, untitled ballads. The premiere of these tracks signals another record is surely in the pipeline which promises much. Maybe this will be the big break that is ever-so deserving. A promising future in store for somebody on the brink of perfecting his vocation.
Immediately after taking to the stage, Phillips’ high-toned vocals strike the venue with one foul, dormant strike. The raw emotion that lies behind the songs is evident; anger lurks and is set to emerge and explode at any given moment, yet it subsides at the same moment. A master at his craft, Philips showcases what made him one of the greatest songwriters to grace the 90s.
After Grant Lee Buffalo dissolved, Phillips embarked on this solo voyage, focusing more intensely on personal aspects of his songwriting, moulding this quirky cult-hero stature for himself. These attributes are blatant as he takes hold of the crowd with his extensive and ever-so impressive back catalogue, which spans an entire lifetime. Here’s to Phillips, a genuine gentlemen and true American storyteller.