March 1999

Phil Sheeran
Orchid
Passage Records

With a smooth, clipped-chord sound recalling Earl Klugh, Seattle guitarist Phil Sheeran's Orchid (Passage Records PR60032; 49:16) is fed by sunny, wide-open leads and memorable melodies. However, a tendency to overdress the arrangements keeps this Orchid from coming into full bloom. Sheeran's high-toned, blues-tinged play highlights light-tonic compositions like "Ste. Tropez," but needless layers of tingly keyboards detract from the fun. Artificial snaps on "In My Heart" and sing-song synth textures on "She Likes the Blues" similarly detract through over-sweetening. Sheeran's guitar work speaks for itself ñ muted and thoughtful on a sinewy, dark cover of Burt Bacharach's "The Look of Love" (which also includes a great Eric Marienthal alto sax solo), stinging bluesy on the aforementioned "She Likes the Blues," and stylishly clipped on "Riding the Wind." These elements make for a pleasant recording which, without the needless extras, might have been an absorbing one.

Originally published in March 1999
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