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I Feel Alive Beyond Compare: Phil Wilson of The June Brides’ God Bless Jim Kennnedy

Phil Wilson
God Bless Jim Kennedy

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Obliterating F. Scott Fitzgerald’s claim that no one in life gets a second act, Phil Wilson’s God Bless Jim Kennedy–the first effort from the former June Bride in almost twenty five years–is one of the most wondrous and utterly brilliant pop albums in recent memory.   Sounding untouched by time, Wilson’s voice is in better form than ever and the ten numbers that make up the album are brimming with urgency and finesse.  “Three Days” jangles beautifully away; “Found A Friend” positively soars and the infectious call and response of the title track tells one of the most heartbreaking, yet life-affirming stories you’ll ever hear. Elsewhere, the horn-laden stomp of “Up To London” is tough and catchy and “Pop Song #32” is insanely infectious; the latter’s energizing pop seeming to have beguiled Wilson himself, who blithely sings, “I feel alive beyond compare.”

Wilson quietly stepped out of music in the late ‘80s and now that he’s stepped quietly back in, one wonders what could have happened in all the time that’s passed in between. It may be a useless academic exercise, but it appears to be on Wilson’s mind as well. “I’ve lost so much time/Waiting for the limelight,” he sings on “The Sum Of…” a bold and hungry number that also finds the singer ruefully declaring, “This time I won’t be denied.”

Suitably, the album ends with “I Own It” a sly little pop number that’s big chorused and big hearted and punctuated perfectly with handclaps and horns. A laundry list of personal inventories, “I Own It” is nothing short of a revelation.  Self-effacing, sentimental and straightforward, Wilson does in three minutes what many bands have been trying to do their entire careers.  “Every feeling that I feel is real to me/I own it,” he sings.

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