Phil Boyd's Hidden Twin project releases Asleep in the Valley | New Releases | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

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Phil Boyd's Hidden Twin project releases Asleep in the Valley

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The Hidden Twin
Asleep in the Valley
ENAMEL/FAUX TOTEM RECORDS

Phil Boyd's first solo album, released two years ago, was entitled Phil Boyd and the Hidden Twin, and Boyd has often performed under that exact moniker. His latest, Asleep in the Valley, however, is credited simply to The Hidden Twin. It may seem a small detail, but the slight alteration provides insight into what the new album is about: character development.

At times, Asleep in the Valley feels like it falls short of being a cohesive album, but given Boyd's well-documented songwriting talent, a number of the songs are successful enough to stand alone and make it a worthwhile listen. As far as writing is concerned, Boyd is at his best on "Shoulders of a Swan," an airy tune that's thoughtful and poetic in terms of both lyrical content and melody.

Boyd performs nearly all the parts on Asleep in the Valley, except for a few second-guitar contributions by occasional collaborator Mike Prosser. Boyd's vocals in some spots are consciously scant and wavering, part of a seeming intentional naiveté that keeps with the bifurcation between the Hidden Twin character and Boyd's shrieking Modey Lemon persona. It's an aesthetic choice that has its ups and downs; the louder and lower he allows himself to go -- for example, on the Sago-inspired "Thirteen Miners" -- the more confident and comfortable Boyd sounds.

With Phil Boyd and the Hidden Twin, Boyd shed much of the swagger he normally maintains as frontman of the bluesy psych-rock powerhouse Modey Lemon and showed what at times was a starkly intimate side of his artistic persona. The new album showcases the growth of his Hidden Twin character as both a storyteller and a private individual.

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