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Boomkat Product Review:
Boasting the first original Phosphorescent material since 2007's brilliant and generally underrated Pride LP, Here's To Taking It Easy follows on the heels of Matthew Houck's Willie Nelson tribute album (To Willie), with a fittingly countrified sound. This is by far Phosphorescent's most extroverted, fully fleshed out set of songs, as demonstrated by the rowdy, barroom arrangements of opener 'It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)', which belts through anthemic horn passages in an E Street Band-esque fashion whilst dropping in a few syrupy pedal steel lines. This sort of classic country-referencing fare crops up recurrently across the album's sequence, and the affable 'Heaven, Sittin' Down' probably most clearly bears the brunt of Houck's affection for Willie Nelson, but as trad and indebted to classic '70s rock as this album is, it never feels like a relic. For instance, you probably won't bat an eye at 'Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly)' when Houck throws a crunching drum machine line in with his choral vocal harmonies and bluesy guitar. After the late night solitude and introspection of Pride, this album feels like the moment at which Phosphorescent hits its stride as a project, making good use of a full band and showcasing a songwriting talent that often approaches brilliance: 'The Mermaid Parade' is exceptionally good, with great lines about trying to let go of lost loves and expired relationships: "I know all about your new man/Your new, older new man/And I heard that he's married/Oh you be careful, Amanda/And yeah, I found a new friend too/And she's pretty and small/But God damn it, Amanda/God damn it all." It all sounds like a bittersweet collision of The Band, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy and Neil Young, the latter of whom is surely the chief influence on the closing nine-minute jam, 'Los Angeles', which recalls the style of the great man's mid-'70s output. Highly recommended.