As you may be aware, most pop artists don’t compose their own tracks. With all of the work that goes into making mass-produced albums, a lot of major studio artists use songwriters to do this for them. And if this results in album after similar-sounding album, then that’s just fine by the studio, which thrives on the popularity (and profitability) of a consistent business model. In short, give the people what they want, and crank out more for as long as it’ll sell.
It’s important to acknowledge the work of singer-songwriters, that special breed of artist. If they’re going to be singing lyrics that will be forever attributed to their careers, these musicians want it known that those words actually meant something personal to them. Nashville’s Phillip LaRue takes this pretty seriously in his upcoming release, You. After an accident that nearly cost him the ability to make music ever again, he set out to make a solo album that would mirror something of his life story. “Memories,” arguably the most mainstream-pop track on the album, is actually a great example of this.
“I try to keep my eyes and ears open. I try to hold on to moments before they pass,” he says on his Facebook page. “Life is short, but it’s sweet.”
And You certainly captures something of this feeling, that everything in our lives deserve appreciation. LaRue’s consistent personality really comes across in tracks like “Diane” and “Carry You” later in the album, where he seeks “songs that put a smile on your face and stir your heart.” It’s especially helpful that LaRue isn’t overly confined by genre boundaries. He seems to be adept at traversing the fine lines that separate folk, Americana, Christian, country, and acoustic pop. Though he may be most well-known as a collaborative Christian artist, he neither squelches this image nor solely relies on it to propel his music as a solo performer.
At ten songs clocking in around forty minutes of music, You is both a fairly quick listen and a rather involved one. There aren’t really any weak tracks, and the best ones pull the listener back in to be heard at least once or twice again. And while the instrumentation itself is fairly simple, LaRue’s emphasis as a lyricist shines through across the whole work. It’s not an album that demands to be heard, true. But it is one that extends a compelling listening invitation and an appealing request to share stories.