I first heard Phil Madeira at the Cornerstone Music Festival when he played with the Lost Dogs, that "CCM" supergroup with Terry Taylor, Derri Daugherty, Mike Roe, and the late Gene Eugene. Phil is irreverent at times and yet a humble man of faith, gruff on ocassion and yet a real sweet guy. Though he's been in the Christian music scene for years and years, in many ways he really doesn't belong there. Christian, yes; CCM radio friendly, no. And yet he is a sought after session musician because the man plays virtually everything --- starting with drums and famously known for his Hammond B3 Organ! Well, I may exxagerate a bit, but I'm quite sure he plays at least ten instruments.
Ditto his production work. He produced CDs for Greg Trooper, Brooks Williams, and Jason Harrod, just to name a few. Phil can rock with the best, yet his preference is the rootsy country vibe you'll find in his solo recordings. My only regret is that I did only one CD with Phil, 3 Horse Shoes., and yet it is definitely a fine record and it was a privilege to have him on Silent Planet Records.
In Spring 1996, to coincide with a pub tour of the UK, Phil independently released Off Kilter, a solo record, on which he played virtually everything. While in England, he started writing 3 Horse Shoes, which features the great talents of Antoine Silverman, Derri Daugherty, Steve Hindalong, Terry Taylor, John Hartley (The Woodthieves), Tammy Rogers (Dead Reckoning), Buddy Miller (Emmylou Harris), Al Perkins (Flying Burrito Brothers and you name it!), Phil Keaggy and Gordon Kennedy, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Tommy Sims (Bruce Springsteen), as well as Madeira's band. Essentially composed in a pub, the record exults in the sort of fellowship Madeira experienced while touring through England. With those names, you get the picture: this is pure Americana, alt-country, whatever they call it now.
A departure from the solitude of last year's Off Kilter, 3 Horse Shoes is about camaraderie and celebrating life. While touring the UK with Phil & John & the Woodthieves, Madeira spent his free days in the countryside, walking and meditating on the riches bestowed on him: Family, friends, and creativity. As Phil says, "The music literally poured out of me during that particular time. I was being healed of the sadness that I alluded to in Off Kilter. I was being reminded, in an ever-so-kind way, that I was still a child of God, and that every person I encounter is important to him."
While Phil stays firmly in the genre of the '70s oriented singer/songwriter style of his previous record, 3 Horse Shoes features a large ensemble of players, and the music has a more exciting dynamic than ever. From the encouraging words of "It's Gonna Be Alright" to the biting wit of "Christmas This Year", Madeira's emotions are, as usual, laid bare without ceremony.
Reviewer Steve Stockman said that "if Frederick Buechner wrote songs, these would be they." Need I say more?
Give a listen to "Mysterious Ways" here: Mysterious Ways.
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