Jefferson Hyll aka Phillip E. Mitchell shows great talent when it comes to songwriting and performing his songs on his latest album Dark. He is an award-winning artist who mixes Americana with an alternative to give us a sound that both recalls Springsteen and more modern acts like John Mayer and The Script. Altogether it is Hyll’s vocal abilities that really spoke to me. With a warm timbre, he belts out the lyrics with emotional power and it is just like coming home.
Dark beings with “Radio Nights,” which starts off to a sauntering groove. Once Hyll’s vocals arrived, I liked how melodious this track sounded to my ears. It had a great alt vibe which recalled in my mind music from the ‘00s. Some piano comes in for a delicate sound on “If I Sleep.” Next, Hyll’s vocals arrive for a searing sound. As Hyll belts out the lyrics on this ballad, the music takes flight with a searing sound. The keys and synths were a great addition here. On the title track “Dark,” synths, percussion and guitar enter the sounds for a moving vibe. Next, the rhythms become more upbeat and faster paced. I loved how dynamic this song sounded. Hyll’s voice proves to be a balm to the soul as he sings with feeling.
Some reverb-drenched wall-to-wall guitars come through here on “The Seven Seas.” Next, Hyll sings at the top of his lungs belting out the lyrics with gusto. I loved the jaunty rhythms and classic rock vibe that definitely recalled Springsteen in my mind. Some synths come through on “City Inside.” Next, Hyll’s vocals come in. On this acoustic track, I was reminded of Dylan. The track takes its time in evolving with absolutely no rush and I loved how great this song sounded. Some piano trickles in alongside some beats on “Stars.” The music is meandering and takes its time to gain momentum. This proved to be another great listen. The sound of synthetic strings was a great addition here.
On “Window Of Time,” airy guitar solos sound out at the start of this track. Once more Hyll conjures a Dylanesque vibe with his enigmatic and moody vocals. This was a pensive track that is fully delivered with a powerful performance from the band. On “Crying For Love (Chet Baker),” I was getting a mix of alt and Contemporary Radio. There was a touch of melancholy to this song as the somber vibes of the instrumentals take over. This was another in the win column for Hyll. Shimmering percussion and piano alone accompany Hyll’s vocals on “Hold That Thought, Hold Me Tighter.” This was a stripped back track that definitely packs a powerful punch with mood and feeling. I thought this was a great way for the artist to send us off.
I thought Hyll does a good job with this and the recording had a professional gleam to it. A DIY effort, Hyll wrote, performed, mixed and mastered everything himself for the most part. My only criticism is that all the songs pretty much sounded all the same. I suggest adding a fast song here and there to add more variation from track to track. All in all, this was a good start and I look forward to hearing more from this artist soon.