Britta Phillips – Luck Or Magic

Britta Phillips - Luck Or Magic

Britta Phillips – Luck Or Magic

Having steadily and stealthily proved herself as far more than just a musical sidekick to Dean Wareham since Luna’s initial dissolution in 2005 – through ongoing collaborative work as one-half of Dean & Britta and across a slew of joint soundtrack commissions – Britta Phillips now finally unveils her first official solo LP.  Originally started properly in 2012 and finally completed around June of 2015, Luck Or Magic has certainly been a long-time coming.  Yet despite its lengthy gestation the album plays out as a remarkably compact and cohesive collection; which comfortably extends upon Phillips’s latter-day works with Wareham as well as finding a few newer nooks and corners to explore.

As with Dean & Britta records, Luck Or Magic unapologetically mixes-up originals with choice covers across the album’s ten tracks.  Sonically it’s also close to the duo’s amorphous art-pop wares but with deeper electronic and acoustic textures expanding into the spaces where Wareham might normally be found upfront (although he still provides generous guest guitar lines on several cuts).

Covers-wise the selections vary between crate-digging obscurities and surprisingly straightforward choices.  Hence, in the former respect Phillips beautifully brings new life to the lush pastorally-infused “One Fine Summer Morning” (formerly recorded by Evie Sands in 1969), stirs-up a swooning symphonic reading of Dennis Wilson’s lost 1970 solo nugget “Fallin’ In Love” (previously released in demo form on a off-piste Dean & Britta 7”) and renders “Wrap Your Arms Around Me” (a solo track from 1983 by ABBA’s Agnetha Fältskog) as a woozily retro-disco ballad.  In the latter regard, Phillips bravely reignites The Cars’ “Drive” as a burbling slow-mo electro torch-song and subtly remoulds Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks-penned standard “Landslide” as a gauzy dream-pop bliss-out.

For the remaining five self-authored pieces, Phillips proves her mettle too.  Thus, the windswept sultry “Daydream” and the prowling “Do It Last” unfurl as if they were vintage Nancy Sinatra songs that had been re-configured by the same session musicians found on Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire De Melody Nelson and then remixed by Moon Safari-era Air; the marvellous “Million Dollar Doll” majestically grooves along in the same dark-early-’80s sounds as Dean & Britta’s Mistress America film score; the title-track melts like some hot-buttered seventies Stax soul; and the hypnotically-alluring “Ingrid Superstar” cross-fuses, feminises and mellows-out shades of early-Velvet Underground and Recurring-era Spacemen 3 (with the welcome six-string help of Luna’s Sean Eden).

Whilst occasionally the wistful gossamer elegance of Luck Or Magic comes close to being a touch too understated, its sophistication and warmth – much like Britta Phillips’s latter-day career as a whole – is revealed gradually and invitingly with repeated encounters.  A fragrantly intoxicating and slow-burning new beginning all told…

Double Feature Records