(All Album Reviews by Mister Buns)
Having worked as a professional orchestral musician for many years, Phil Walton has taken a new direction with this 2006 album. Reason To Live is an interesting collection of carefully composed songs that is genuinely difficult to categorize.
Phil himself has described the album as "alternative-progressive pop-rock" and this is pretty close to the mark. There is a very wide range of styles, with touches of seventies progressive rock and pop, jazz, and even something that sounds like early Simple Minds on one track!
One constant throughout is Walton's voice, which is unique. Haunting, emotional and very English-sounding, there are echoes of Robert Wyatt and Ian Curtis here. The lyrical content involves rather dark takes on themes such as broken relationships and the passing of time, but the album finishes on an uplifting positive note with the title track.
The album was originally created as a showcase to attract interest from potential singers and to these ears it does sound more like a very good demo, rather than a finished album as such. Several songs (such as the excellent "Sail Away" for example) are a bit scrappy in the rhythm department and general production. Although full credit is of course due to Phil for playing, producing and mixing everything (guitars, keyboards, programming) himself, a full band or a more professional production could showcase his considerable talents better.