mature, introspective songwriting

Both Sides (Atlantic)
Phil Collins

By Kory Wilcoxson

You'll have to excuse Phil Collins if there is a significant amount of time between his solo albums. You see, he has this little side project called Genesis which is sometimes a little time consuming.

Collins ventures back into solo artist territory and this time around he is truly a one-man show, writing and producing all the songs as well as playing all the instruments.

Both Sides shows a side of Collins that not a lot of people are familiar with. This is nowhere near as accessible as the material on Seriously or No Jacket Required, but it also represents some of Collins' best work.

Although Collins seems at his best when there's a playful, poppy atmosphere to his music, like his biggest hit "Susudio," it's when he turns introspective that he is most satisfying. His music shows an enormous amount of maturity and sincerity and deals honestly with delicate feelings. Those who didn't think Collins could deal with such deep emotions will be pleasantly surprised.

The first single, "Both Sides of the Story," is a good example of what this album has to offer. The tempo is blunt and controlled and this song, like many of the others, has an "In the Air Tonight"-like feel. Collins' lyrics are contemplative and thought-provoking and combining that with Collins' superior songwriting ability lets listeners have their cake and eat it too.

Give Collins credit for laying himself bare. Going without any backup means there's no one to fall back on if Both Sides doesn't make the cut. Collins is a veteran and can deal with that, but Both Sides is such a treat he shouldn't have to worry about it.