Based upon his travels on the back roads of the American West, Stripmall Ballads – Phillips Saylor Wisor - sought and found inspiration for his music in the landscapes and people he met and stories he heard. The resulting album, 'Distant' brings those tales and characters together using vivid imagery and creative songwriting.
Each song on the record is its own miniature tale filled with cinematic and sometimes ghostly lyrics that lean heavily into the natural world. Love, death, promise, and loss emerging in the various characters as they make their way through the narratives of the ethereal tales. Weariness abounds too, almost as if there’s mourning for a lifestyle that’s lost, yet never really existed.
Showing the dark side of the American Dream, ‘Pull Over Johnny’ and ‘Slinger’ explore life through characters using drugs, violence, and murder as reference points that highlight the frailty of life.
With a hypnotic rhythm, ‘Don’t Mind Me’ sounds like a cross between Neil Young and Metallica. With a hint of recovery, ‘Valerie’ is a haunting tale of heartbreak, while the whimsical lyrics of ‘Juice and Sage’ hint at something altogether more introspective.
Taking time out from his last road trip, Wisor recorded ‘Distant’ in Columbus, Ohio with help from folk-rockers Yellow Paper Planes. The resulting sound is raw and sparse as some of the dusty roads traversed in writing the songs. For comparison think of the works of Neil Young and The Stray Gators.
Wisor’s lyrics are like poetry and much like some of Young’s works can be quite obscure. Yet they work as evidenced in ‘Jennifer Pine Tree’, as it paints pictures with words in the mind of the listener allowing them to draw their own personal conclusions about the subject matter within.
Combining earthy melodies with sensitive playing and poetic lyrics, ‘Distant’ is a record replete with dust bowl ballads for the 21st century.