It’ll come as no surprise that the best moments on Page McConnell’s solo debut are the ones that sound the most Phish-y. And with this self-titled album his first true step out on his own, it only seems fitting that the nine compositions revolve around difficult endings, awkward transitions and fresh new beginnings.
The exploratory funk of the 10+ minute “Heavy Rotation” (featuring bassist Mike Gordon), and the anthemic power of “Beauty Of A Broken Heart” (featuring drummer Jon Fishman) put the jam-centric keyboardist right back into strikingly familiar territory. McConnell was even working on the latter when the jam titans were still together. But if anything will make impatient fans even more anxious for a reunion, it’s the lone instrumental, “Back In The Basement,” which features Gordon and guitarist Trey Anastasio, epitomizing their intrinsic force as a band unparalleled.
The lyrical work is filled with some rather intimate self-disclosure (namely his recent divorce) and while it may have been cathartic for him to get some of that out, it can be a bit forced, taking away from the ballads beneath them – “Maid Marian,” “Close To Home” and “Complex Wind” all falling victim. Thankfully that’s not the case with “Rules I Don’t Know,” one of the best songs to come from any Phish alum. A strong showcase for the keyboard crooner, the Elton John-esque, barroom sing-a-long stays with you long after last call.