“I’m very proud of this recording and I hope ya’s enjoy it,” Christchurch country artist Phil Doublet ended his email to us when sending through the following article. Phil was judged the Male Artist of The Year at the Country Music Awards 2014 for his debut ‘Stone & Wood’, and kindly agreed to run NZM through through the songs of his sophomore album ‘Endless Highway’.
The title track Endless Highway is a song about the struggles of being an indie songwriter in the live music scene – caught between the dream of wanting to share your original compositions but being trapped by playing the songs they know. Co-written and featuring the vocals from the legendary Geoff Farmar. I remember sitting around one day trying to write for this album, when the title sprang out of nowhere. The theme and tune came to me relatively quickly along with some lyrics. But needing something else, I gave it to Geoff, who sat on it for a couple of weeks. After a few emails and messages back and forth, by the end of it we successfully got the song.
One of the last songs I wrote for the album, it was never meant to be on it. Kind of a ‘stadium country’ vibe written for a bit of fun. But my arm was twisted to include what now is the first single off the album, Keep You Hangin’ Round – a summer anthem for all who can relate. The lady you hear at the start is Gin Perdide (USA) who pledged during my campaign, claiming a reward to play cowbell on Rattlesnake. Gin just happened to accidently count herself in on the take she did. I liked the whole part so much that I kept her count in and added it to this song.
The song Sometimes was written for a close family member, is about the struggles of depression and other forms of mental illness – a subject Winston Churchill referred to as “the Black Dog”. This was something I had wanted to write about for some time. The track features a wonderful pedal steel guitar solo by the one and only Mr Paddy Long.
I was literally sitting in a hotel room overseas one day with nothing to do – barely even TV reception, so I figured I’d write some lyrics. I put them together with a tune I’d been sitting on for a while that uses a double capo technique with alternate DADGAD tuning on the guitar. The song wrote itself simply by taking in my surroundings and writing about Nothing Else To Do. All the instruments you hear on the track are me.
After hanging out with a friend of mine one day in Dunedin, he helped me write the song Wife For Sale and also played bass on the track, to a Texas swing groove. We had a few laughs and brews over this one, especially since it is word for word a true story about a cruel April Fool’s prank played on him by his wife.
One track I’m particularly proud of is Heaven’s Address. My grandmother passed away last year and I wanted to write a song just for her. My grandmother inadvertently had a hand in writing this too when I stumbled across a small notebook of hers where she had written down some poetry and quotes of her own. The lines were so touching I had to put them in the second verse of the song. My friend and duo partner John Sanchez-Lloyd played a soulful piano part on this track.
Life With You is a duet that was written and sung with my wife Lana [Doublet], who is an award-winning songwriter herself. We wrote this song for our wedding last year and I believe it certainly reflects our feelings for one another using what we know best – music.
The oldest song on the album is Rattlesnake, which fell victim to a rewrite. The new version of a ‘shelved’ idea is now a Rolling Stones-ish treatment delivering some good old rock’n’roll. My friend and co-producer Arnie van Bussel and I were sitting around trying to find an audio sample of a ‘rattler’ but decided to make one from scratch with two egg shakers panned left and right at the start of the song. It also features a cameo alto sax solo by Micah Templeton-Wolfe.
Looks Like Rain started life as an instrumental piece composed and played on a Weissenborn lap guitar. When the lyrics finally were added to the song, it became a co-write with my wife Lana. The only other instrument on the track is John Sanchez-Lloyd playing harmonica for a real front porch kinda vibe. The song evolved into a folk-like tale of a troubled relationship battling stormy weathers.
The last song on the album came about two years ago on a trip to Norfolk Island. Lana and I were over there for a music festival. We learnt a lot about the gruelling history of the island, and heard a lot of stories that happened there during the convict settlements.
I wrote two songs while we were there, and literally finished the third when we arrived back in Christchurch. Since all the songs were all about Norfolk Island I figured I’d combine all three into a trilogy. The outcome made for a 12-minute track, featuring my own father giving a monologue on the first track Exiled, to a dark tale about a landmark there known as ‘Bloody Bridge’. You’ll notice there’s an audio sample of shackles rattling in time with the track. And finally a true story about a man named Barney Duffy who evaded the prison guards for seven years by hiding inside a Norfolk pine tree. All three songs lent itself to the folk genre to close the album. We spent weeks mixing this one to get it just right.