Phildel is more than a singer song­writer, she’s a mul­ti-tal­ent­ed per­former whose artistry per­me­ates every aspect of her work. So I was keen to buy the phys­i­cal CD of The Dis­ap­pear­ance of the Girl and enjoy the art work and read the lyrics. Some­times I just think, damn those soul­less down­loads: music with­out its his­to­ry. Phildel The disappearance of the girlFor Phildel, cre­at­ing this col­lec­tion of 12 songs and putting them out there was unde­ni­ably a cathar­tic expe­ri­ence, a tri­umph of the self after a trau­mat­ic past. The CD opens with the title track, The Dis­ap­pear­ance of the Girl, which refers to the painful decade Phildel spent dur­ing her ado­les­cence when music, the pas­sion of her life, was for­bid­den by her reli­gious step­fa­ther. The song offers jig­saw pieces of her past: the track begins with what sounds like the expres­sive­ly sad Chi­nese erhu, con­jur­ing influ­ences from her Hong Kong roots; then there are the lyrics which speak of betray­al and bit­ter­ness “You know he betrays you, as much as he saves you”. The sec­ond track Storm Song gives Phildel the chance to extend her voice to its full range. Again there’s a intro which with its swoops and crescen­dos are rem­i­nis­cent of Enya. Beside You is a pow­er­ful and beau­ti­ful song. The album ver­sion is giv­en depth by adding strings and a cho­rus, but the pared-down live ver­sion at Bush Hall worked just as effec­tive­ly, as its pow­er emanates from her emo­tive lyrics and piano accom­pa­ni­ment. It’s an intrigu­ing and tor­tured tale of love that remains in sus­pense, ‘in my house on the hill, there is room for you still.’

Most men­ac­ing and pow­er­ful is The Wolf. Again there’s the almost trade­mark pow­er­ful intro, this gives way to an elec­tron­ic dancey track pow­ered by a dri­ving beat, which befits this dark and men­ac­ing tale. Work­ing my way through the CD it was easy to get lost in the mean­ing of the lyrics, the art­work, the sym­bol­ism, the arrange­ments. Although that is not sur­pris­ing, as each track takes you on a jour­ney, of love, mys­ti­cism, long­ing, betrayal.

But what had orig­i­nal­ly drawn me to Phildel was the puri­ty and pow­er of her voice, and so I backed off and just tried to get back to that moment of let­ting the music wash over me. That’s the beau­ty of this col­lec­tion of songs: they can be expe­ri­enced on many dif­fer­ent levels.

The Dis­ap­pear­ance of the Girl
Storm Song
Beside You
Union Stone
Afraid of the Dark
The Wolf
Holes in your Coffin
Funer­al Bell
Dec­ca 2013

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