Phil McMinn's début EP, A Crystal / A Diamond / An End / A Start is exactly the sort of thing I want to hear right now. The reprieve to all the months of electronic music and well produced R&B and urban influenced dubstep. It's just a short collection of four beautiful and touching songs.
Opening up, in more ways than one, with 'Chase Horses Down', a naked and slowly contemplative song - McMinn lays down his emotions bare and it sets the pace for the EP. McMinn takes folk music and blasts it into widescreen, creating a floating-in-space aesthetic without losing any of the honesty.
The EP was born following a trip to Scotland that McMinn took with his father, where they drove to the Isle of Skye and across from there under the Cairngorms mountain range to the east coast of Scotland. The space and big skies are still almost just as audible here on these songs as they must have been then.
Phil's also been through a couple of band splits - Fell City Girl, who imploded after signing to SonyBMG in a move that saw their management become the A&R team responsible for signing the deal, leaving them untouchable as far as future management were considered. Following this he formed The Winchell Riots, who took a more independent route but ultimately ended up splitting up too.
Following the demise of his last band McMinn took a year off from music completely and it was only after the trip with his father that he was ready and able to make music again.
There are analogues to Bon Iver in McMinn's journey, and a similar sound of recovery at work in this music, whether on the backwards glances of 'That House You Built From The Wreckage' or the hopeful optimism of ’Lavender Hill'. The songs here are already strong, the vocals steady and production work capable of transcending the folk genre from which the music ultimately comes from.
A Crystal / A Diamond / An End / A Start is out now on Beard Museum. You can preview the EP via Bandcamp below and it's available on Amazon.co.uk as a download here [affiliate link].