Flying Pig Music
Got an e-mail last month from a guy named Phil Redo (says it’s pronounced Ray-doe). He lives in Brunswick and records his folk songs and instrumental compositions in a recording studio inside a barn. Says he had a long career in commercial radio, did “amazing projects” with Sir Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Roberta Flack and such stars, and shared an amusing story about hiring legendary local meteorologist “Altitude” Lou McNally to do the weather for a station in Cape Cod.
Look, I dig Roberta Flack, and the bit about Lou piqued my interest a bit, but shit, I’ve got a big boxful of B- and C-grade folk and light jazz recordings sent to me over the years by Maine musicians I’ve never written about. Why should this guy get ink?
Well, for one thing, he should probably be dead. Redo wrote toward the end of his message that he underwent heart surgery five years ago, “pretty serious stuff,” and that during his recovery he rediscovered his love of making his own music. Says he’s still “stunned” by how strongly this compulsion to write and record still is — “I really can’t explain it. Doctors tell me this isn’t unusual.”
I think I can explain it. The dude got an eyeful of oblivion, felt the stomach-flipping sensation of tipping into pure nothingness and realized it’s literally now or never. Better get this stuff on tape before The Reaper returns, “rage against the dying of the light,” and all that.
So this is music by a guy who’s practically half a ghost, recordings that were a few heartbeats away from never existing. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a state where someone like Redo is ignored by the music press (pretty much me and Sam and Aimsel these days, I guess — sheesh, we’re screwed).
The EP Redo was writing to me about is called White Moon. It’s a pleasant little record, mostly acoustic guitar and piano, and not without some bite. For example, on the first track, “Chocolates and Walnuts,” Redo sings, “The wise can see / When a preacher man’s done / And when the people have run / From the churches that spun / All of those lies about staying alive.” And the next verse — “Learn the lessons / Only after being burned / By the people who earned / The complaints that you heard / And the twilight will not be denied” — sure rings true to me after the year I’ve had.
The highest compliment I can pay Redo is to say he sings in his own voice, earnestly. That realness is the best aspect of this release, followed by Redo’s lyrics, which are also sincere and occasionally haunting. “This Lovely Day,” an otherwise tranquil lullaby, contains this striking verse: “Like the needles on the trees / One behind the other / The pictures in the boxes / Have stopped staring at me.”
In the two weeks it took me to check out Redo’s Bandcamp page, he released another EP, Aspire, a collection of four instrumental piano tracks that are likewise easy on the ears and may cause drowsiness. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are nearly 30 recordings posted on Redo’s Bandcamp, all released within the past two years. I clicked on a couple, but to be honest, I doubt I’ll listen to much Phil Redo in the future. It’s enough for me to know he’s out there making his music, against the odds, in the face of indifference, purely for the love of it. A man like that is a hero to me and deserves to be, if not championed, at least appreciated.