Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hump Day Hot Ticket: Britta Phillips “Drive”

Photo courtesy of Luz Gallardo

As the singing voice of Jem from the iconic ’80s cartoon Jem & The Holograms, Britta Phillips has had a unique advantage in that her audience has grown up with her as her musical journey continued to evolve. From her various projects such as Luna, Dean & Britta, and movie soundtrack work, Britta has come a long way since her “truly outrageous” days as the pink-haired superwoman that inspired young girls and boys alike to follow their dreams. But her fans are just as devoted to her now as adults as they were back when they were little kids parked in front of the TV, waiting every week to hear her voice and sing along to those catchy Jem tunes. Now Britta has released the very first solo album of her storied career: Luck or Magic, a balanced mix of original material coupled with cover tunes from the ’70s and ’80s that her Jem fanbase are sure to recognize.

Much as Britta has embraced her past and does not try to deny her Jem affiliation, it is also safe to say that, musically, she as is far removed from the synth-driven ’80s pop that was the signature sound of the fictional band she fronted. Her singing style is completely her own now, and sounds nothing at all like her “Jem voice”. But her unique vocal delivery is still very identifiable, and if Britta Phillips really was Jem, one could say that her music on Luck or Magic is exactly what Jem might actually be doing in the year 2016; as a grown-up, mature woman who knows herself, knows her musical message, and knows how to utilize those talents to the fullest. With her throwback covers of past hits combined with her own current music, Luck or Magic speaks to the heart of every ’80s kid who are at that age where we are still young enough to approach newer music with an open mind (even if not with the same enthusiasm as in our teens and ’20s), but also reaching the age where childhood nostalgia kicks in, and the music from our past becomes as important to us as it ever did.

So then, perhaps Britta's choices of cover tunes on this album couldn't be more perfect, especially the choice for the video I'm going to share with you now: a cover of the classic tune from The Cars, “Drive”. If you grew up in the ’80s, you know this song. Britta does a fantastic job of conveying the sad and tragic lyrics; the juxtaposition of her morose vocals heard over a retro-style video of seemingly happy home videos that belie the tension just beneath the surface. Between these images are clips of Britta in black-and-white, either singing or driving around in her car. The music is minimalistic, drawing attention to the lyrical content; making it more powerful of a delivery. The comments on Britta's YouTube channel compare this tune to Lana Del Rey, so for those of you younger readers who don't know anything about the ’80s or don't get the references I have made, then consider those comments and take it from there! It's a worthy cover tune of a timeless classic from a super-talented singer. Need I say more?

Luck or Magic is now available on Double Feature Records.

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