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. For 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
Afraid of the Dark
Holes in your Coffin