When Phillip Phillips was busy kicking ass on American Idol in 2012, both his voice and overall sound regularly drew comparisons to Dave Matthews. These comparisons became even more common when the Georgia-born singer and songwriter dared to tackle "The Stone," from Dave Matthews Band's 1998 album, Before These Crowded Streets. Even Matthews himself could not help but comment on their uncanny resemblance. Yet defining Phillips as nothing more than a Matthews clone is superficial, as it overlooks the novel brand of pop synthesis that lies at the heart of his music.
As his recently released sophomore effort, Behind the Light, further demonstrates, Phillips subtly fuses two of pop rock's dominant trends of the last decade: (1) the folksy jam-pop sound as embodied by the Americans Jack Johnson, John Mayer and, yes, Dave Matthews, and (2) the soaring, hymnal-like rock of British artists as diverse as Coldplay, Damien Rice, David Gray and Mumford & Sons. Few current artists bridge the two trends as thoroughly as Phillips. Of course, one could point to an act such as The Fray and claim they beat the American Idol winner to the punch by several years. In my humble opinion, however, the Denver rockers always have been noticeably more indebted to their British influences. Phillips, in contrast, appears to love both the Yanks and the Brits equally. To get a better understanding of this notable fusion, I've put together a playlist that spotlights songs from Phillips as well as his numerous inspirations. Enjoy.