Securing a support slot on Will Young's upcoming UK tour is a natural fit for Bristolians Phantom Limb. Dominated by the rich tones of Yolanda Quarterly, they should be a perfect counterpoint to Young's more populist offerings while gaining valuable national exposure for their bluesy, southern-tinged soul. Originally issued last year, this special edition offers the opportunity to get (re-)acquainted.
Opener 'Don't Say A Word' is a brave shot across the bows, its gospel-inspired melody showcasing Quarterly's subtle take on the format, with none of the showboating that marrs many similar releases of a modern vintage. 'Withering Bones' has a bit more fire, allowing her to showcase a fine vocal range, with comparisons to Etta James and Mavis Staples not far from the mark.
A more pronounced country air comes through on 'My Love Has Gone', before the album's centrepiece, the maudlin 'Playing With Death'. Exposing a much darker heart than one might expect, it marks Phantom Limb as having potential far beyond the slightly MOR, Later With ... audience you imagine most of the marketing dollars are being directed at.
Unfortunately, the album never quite sustains its earlier promise, although the eight-minute-plus closer 'The Hard Way' slow burns its way to a suitably impassioned climax.
A solid debut and one that justifies further investigation.