Featured in The San Diego Troubadour. Check out the story here.
"San Diego jazz guitar virtuoso Peter Sprague has always held a deep affinity for singers, in fact, his first self-released record with the band Dance of the Universe Orchestra was called You Make Me Want to Sing and it featured the remarkable Kevyn Lettau.
In the intervening years, Sprague has been a beacon—drawing in the very finest vocalists in Southern California to collaborate with, often gathered to interpret the lyrics of songwriting partner Randy Phillips, who, on “Far Away,” a sensitive duet with Sprague, turns out be quite a singer in her own right.
Sparks and Seeds features contributions from five other talented vocalists including one from Allison Adams Tucker, two from Lisa Hightower, three from Leonard Patton, three from new collaborator Emily Elbert, and four from Rebecca Jade.
In his liner notes, Sprague refers to this collection as “folk-music” but I wouldn’t approach this expecting Peter, Paul and Mary or early Bob Dylan. It might lack a lot of intricate solos, but the music is incredibly sophisticated and extremely well produced.
Six voices, one guitar and a revolving cast of dynamic session aces make this music soar. Each singer has their own stamp and each voice gets inside your ear.
Tucker completely nails “You Were Never Mine.” She has an amazing gift of clarity that allows each syllable to be understood and perhaps the most subtle mastery of vibrato of the bunch.
Phillips didn’t just write the lyrics to all 14 tunes, she also does a superb job on “Far Away,” emoting the equestrian vibes with a wistful soprano.
Hightower handles the exotic atmosphere of “Whisper of 4 a.m.” with aplomb, but her performance on “Rain” brings me to tears almost every time, which is not easy to do.
Elbert has a very distinctive, dreamy soprano that reminds me of a blend between Norah Jones and Corrine Bailey Rae, and her three selections are very affecting and effective, even the slightly goofy “Big Easy Chair,” which offsets the rather dark “Somewhere Up the Street.” Her performance on the title track will linger, I predict.
Patton’s deeply soulful baritone is always a welcome addition, and, on “Too Far Down,” a duet with Sprague, he even explores a distinctly Americana vibe; “Mudra” and “Calling Me Home” originally appeared on an earlier Sprague disc, but these are new mixes.
Jade completely dominates her four contributions. Her smoky alto hits every note dead center and her emotional interpretation of Phillips’ lyrics make the listener believe every single word. I can’t get “Full Moon’s Daughter” and “Down to the Bone” out of my head.
I don’t know if it’s “folk music,” but if you love singers and the art of song, Sparks and Seeds is essential listening.
A CD release is planned for Sunday, August 5, at Sunset Temple. Check the calendar for details."
See the article here!
New album release featured in the San Diego Union-Tribune.
San Diego Troubadour
Randy Phillips, True Stories I Made Up Reviewed by Craig Yerkes, January, 2006
Listening to "True Stories I Made Up," the latest release from Randy Phillips, I felt like I had taken a seat at a friendly, beach side coffeehouse at sundown. The good vibes permeate this disc as it skips between different musical genres, and the glue that keeps it all together is the musical synergy between Randy Phillips and her all-around musical partner, Peter Sprague.
Of the Phillips-Sprague collaborations, the track that comes together with the most pleasing end result is "Tumbling Into Blue," a tasty Latin jazz tune that simply floats out of the speakers like a summer breeze. The breathy, soulful lead vocal and the stellar nylon string guitar work on "Tumbling Into Blue" make for an intoxicating combination from two seasoned talents who have clearly learned how to play off each other to full effect.
I was surprised and intrigued to see that there are a few tunes on this recording that feature lyrics by Randy Phillips set to music by Pat Metheny. Of these Metheny-based tunes, the one that works best is "Farmers' Trust," which seamlessly weaves the lead vocal and heartfelt lyrics into the music.
"Could It Be You," featuring some great lead vocals and fiddle playing from Gabe Witcher, is the strongest of the country/pop flavored offerings with its wonderfully romantic lyrics and melodic hooks. If this song hasn't been shopped to the country music machine in Nashville, it should be.
My only gripe with this CD is that a few of the tracks are more dark and/or bitter than I think Phillips can effectively pull off. For instance, "All About You" (which features a killer jazz guitar solo) is a fairly stern rebuke written to a self-centered lover, but somehow there is still sweetness and light in the lead vocal, making the end result a bit like what it might sound like if Mr. Rogers were trying his best to scold a child. I suppose this could be classified as a backhanded compliment and the point is that the more positive offerings on this recording seemed to ring more true.
Randy Phillips and company have created a warm and inviting musical sanctuary with "True Stories I Made Up" and I highly suggest pullling up a chair at this particular seaside coffeehouse.
Reviews for "Wild Horses"
"This is a great Album! (5 stars, CD Baby)"
"The music on this album Wild Horses by Randy Phillips is wonderful music. The lyrics are taunting and lyrics are heartfelt.The music is haunting and rhythmic.The music on this album is unique and is a nice blend of folksy pop music with more of a leaning towards folk. I found the album by accident by typing in "wild horses" in the album search window of napster and am very glad to have found this artist. Because I like the music so much I have bought this album as a gift for three different friends who like country music and they rave about this album. The Wild Horses track especially is a piece that tugs on your heartstrings and makes you want to listen to it over and over"
- Eileen in Olympia, WA
"Wild Horses, is great - no doubt about it."
"When this lady sings, you better listen. Randy Philip's third album, Wild Horses, is great - no doubt about it. Pop the CD in your car or your home stereo and you'll know what I'm talking about. The selection of songs on this album will definitely take you for a ride. Regardless of what mood you're in this album is for you, because as the magic unfolds, it will take you wherever your imagination allows.
Philips takes you along with her as she embarks on her own personal journey from tranquility to a full on sound that will definitely keep you moving! Each song in Wild Horses represents a different phase of the personal experience. Definitely check out tracks 2, 8, and 7. The lyrics delicately reflect the thoughts of a woman who knows herself well. Above all else, Randy's vocals make this album irresistible.
At a time when the industry sometimes confuses the meaning of good music by how many albums is sold, Wild Horses proves that quality still prevails. Backed by some of San Diego's top musicians, Wild Horses can definitely share shelves with the best of them."
- Staff Writer Victoria Joven
"Even a jaded listener is going to find some real gems here."
"A singer-songwriter with a difference, Randy Phillips 5th album, "Wild Horses" will delight long time fans, while impressing anyone who is discovering her music for the first time. Her sound can be a bit hard to pigeonhole, though to be certain there is acoustic pop, along with folk and country touches, as well as jazz flourishes.
Without hesitation, I can say this is her best effort yet. It's a particularly strong selection of songs, from start to finish, with something here for just about any mood. Reflective ballads don't come much more introspective or drenched in melody than "Grace and Gravity", while opener "Eye Of The Hurricane", is a rousing, sing-a-long rocker, made for playing loud - and there's ten more tunes here just as good. Even a jaded listener is going to find some real gems here. "Wild Horses" is full of magic moments that show off the album's warm, lush production. To be sure there is fantastic instrumentation on these hook filled tunes, from such notables as guitarist Peter Sprague, bassist Kevin Hennessy and multi-instrumentalist Dennis Caplinger, and the arrangements are sterling, with lots of little flourishes that show a real devotion to song craft. Take "Soldier" for example.
Check the vocal arrangement at :53 and especially at 2:26. Somewhere between Brian Wilson and early Kate Bush, circa "Lord Of The Reedy River", all in a less than 10 second passage. And keep in mind this is a mid-tempo fiddle driven acoustic number. Then there's that killer guitar solo, plus tempo changes. It's a marvelously eclectic and engrossing sound. Maybe it's the little things, like the guitar passage in the title track at 1:27. Or how well the sequencing works. But when that spice is added to Randy Phillips wonderful voice, and the dozen enchanting, well-crafted songs here, you have an album that truly deserves to be heard by the masses."
- Bart Mendoza, San Diego Union-Tribune
Reviews for "Kicking a hole in the Sky"
"the perfect companion for days of quiet reflection and musical travels."
"Randy Phillips has issued a very fine collection of songs on her new CD Kicking a hole in the Sky, -- I was especially taken by the first song, When Your Love Has Gone Away and transported to a long, lazy summer day. Phillips was wise in her choice of producer Peter Sprague not only lends his arrangements and expertise as recording engineer, but several songs employ his sweet, melodic guitar work. Sprague may be a monster jazz musician, but he moves easily into folk music and deftly enhances what is already there. The result is an enjoyable body of well-crafted songs and sparse but very tasteful arrangements. This CD would be the perfect companion for days of quiet reflection and musical travels."
- Deborah Liv Johnson, Mojave Sun Records"
"a purity of sound that I find very refreshing"
"I find her new record to be very melodic and calming to the soul; both admirable qualities. I think Randy Phillips has come up with an interesting blend of folk and a certain country sound that has originality and sensitivity. Theres an organic quality to her music and a purity of sound that I find very refreshing."
- Charles McPherson, International Jazz Musician
"ability to reveal to us the subtle inner workings of the human soul"
"One of the most powerful qualities that music holds is its ability to reveal to us the subtle inner workings of the human soul. Through Randy Phillips voice, music and lyrics we learn something about ourselves. The journey is a delightful one. She is a true artist."
- Peter Sprague, Record Producer/Recording Artist
Reviews for "Full Moon's Daughter"
"With it's poetic, thought provoking lyrics and lush melodic arrangements Randy Phillips "Full Moon's Daughter" is a delightful listening experience."
- Peggy Watson singer/songwriter, Recording Artist
"Listen and Enjoy."
"Randy's songs are sensitive and heartfelt. Though different from what I usually do, I found the music interesting and playing on the song 'Where Time Stands Still' was truly a fun experience for me. Peter Sprague's involvement as producer and musician were invaluable. Listen and Enjoy."
- Charles McPherson, International Jazz Musicia
San Diego Reader:
"Every time I watch this movie, it grabs me by the throat and won't let me go."
"Poetry-drenched, lyric-oriented folk jazz" is how Randy Phillips describes her music. "With a little Joni [Mitchell] and Ani [DiFranco] via Sarah McLachlan and Mary Chapin Carpenter."
- By Jay Allen Sanford, Published April 13, 2006, San Diego Reader
The 1976 SDSU graduate (with a degree in sociology) used to sing songs to runaway adolescents while she was counseling at a residential treatment program called "the Bridge." She found a similarly receptive audience while serving as director of psychosocial services at San Diego Hospice, where she used her form of music therapy to comfort not only terminally ill patients but also family members and fellow staffers.
Patch Adams: The Musical? Yeah, she's socially conscious. But keep in mind that it takes one cheeky monkey to add your own lyrics and vocals to a Pat Metheny instrumental, and that's exactly what Phillips does on her 2005 CD True Stories I Made Up. Not one, but three Metheny tunes are interpreted on this CD, which also features guest appearances by local guitarist Peter Sprague and bassist Bob Magnusson. Check it out for yourself at VioletStarRecords.com or see her at Rebecca's Coffeehouse in South Park on Friday, April 14.