Blissfully ambient, Phia’s self-titled second album seamlessly blends celestial choral harmonies and live looping, the effect of which is sonically unique.
Following her 2016 debut album The Ocean of Everything, Phia’s sophomore record explores a period of artistic and personal growth, expertly balancing layers of kalimba with long-time collaborator Joshua Teicher’s cathartic guitar phrases, and lyrics that feel introspective and considered.
The album’s lead track The Path, provides a glistening introduction to Phia’s harmonically distinctive world. Originally written on the piano, Phia said “the Path was written in a moment of pure frustration, a heightened emotion moment, stamping your foot like a child.”
The complimentary music video is ethereal and features Phia crying tears of glitter. “This was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had. Dressing up and learning choreography with a choir and creating this bold piece of art I’m so proud of. My grandmother Hanny was a dancer and a creative dance therapist and I felt very close to her as I made this video, expressing the emotions in the song through movement, feeling it in my body.”
Produced by Nick Huggins, the record glides effortlessly from track to track with other standouts including Turning Around – a catchy song about life’s daily distractions, Fitzroy – an ode to Melbourne and family, Wash Me in the Ocean—written about Point Roadnight beach and Phia’s return to Australia after living in Berlin, and the nostalgic Coffee After 3.
Another standout track is the joyous Full Circle which explores issues of independence and identity. A fitting addition to the record as Phia’s life seems to have come full circle since returning from Berlin in 2016. Having been immersed in choral music since she was a child (Phia’s mother sang in the Brunswick Women’s Choir). Phia co-founded the acclaimed Melbourne Indie Voices in 2016 and acts as the choir’s artistic director. The choir features heavily on Phia’s self-titled record, adding texture and dimension to the arrangements and successfully bolstering her unique Indie-pop sound.
The 200-strong choir also joined Phia during her sold-out album launch on Friday the 17th of June at Elisabeth Murdoch Hall at the Melbourne Recital Centre.
PHIA is out now.
Words by Monique La Terra