Who says head bangers don’t have a gentle side? Once a heavy metal guitar maestro rocking clubs in New Zealand, Phil Stoodley’s sound has matured as he has. With his first solo album No Surprise, he’s layed down some relaxing acoustic-based tunes, many personal in nature, that could easily serve as the soundtrack of your lazy weekend. We’re not talking about easy listening or elevator music but rather sounds similar to 2012 American Idol winner Phillip Phillips’ song Home and music from 80s critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and film composer Michael Penn.
Leading off his album is We Don’t Talk Anymore, an uptempo tune where the singer mourns a relationship that has slipped away. This is a very relatable song to most people because at one time or another many of us have been in relationships that slowly fizzled until it becomes a shell of what it once was.
Long Way From Home is a country-flavored piece that expresses how it feels to be away from familiar surroundings and the one you love. Feeling Strange, the first ballad in this collection and, arguably, the strongest track, has a gorgeous melody. I listened to this one several times because the song could have been written for me – sometimes sad and moody for no apparent reason and having to explain to my guy that it isn’t him – it’s me.
Other songs on No Surprise include the quirky Falling Apart and the surprisingly dark Walk Forward In Motion. Each of those, as well as the others on the album, seem to be a reflection of the artist’s experience in life. And isn’t that the mark of a great songwriter? Having won several awards for his craft, Phil Stoodley may just be the next artist you hear on the radio. Not bad for a guy who got his first guitar after is dad got lucky at the horse races!
Listen to a track below or download the album for free here.