on 9 November 2012
This is a meticulous and measured solo album, all acoustic guitar and up-front vocal delivering simple but finely crafted melodies - the voice often following a guitar line picked from within a chord sequence. Harmonising vocals are the main additional accompaniment, for example on 'Bound To This World'.
In many ways this parallel guitar and voice focus is old-fashioned, but all the better for being so. 'Thunderbird' is a perfect example: the simplicity of the two, with Phillips' vocal here and on all tracks crisp and full, plus piano a delicate hint in the background. Even title track 'Walking in the Green Corn' uses the singular fiddle as the album's most ostentatious additional effect. The song has a country lilt that also presents the album's liveliest pace.
Think America and Ryan Adams [the latter especially on 'Fool's Gold'], though this album doesn't resonate with melodies that instantly stamp their sound. An early favourite is second track 'Great Horned Owl', again with the simplicity of tandem guitar-line and voice. Third 'Buffalo Hearts' is also softly penetrating on the aural recall. Fourth 'The Straighten Outer' is a fine example of Phillips' lyrical intensity, for example 'birds of prey' are the 'smithy of the straighten outer, hammer out the curves' in a world that's a 'rattlesnake waiting to unwind'.