Testify (2002)


 
1. Wake Up Call 2. Come With Me 3. Testify 4. Don't Get Me Started 5. Swing Low 6. It's Not Too Late 7. This Love This Heart 8. Driving Me Crazy 9. The Least You Can Do 10. Can't Stop Loving You 11. Thru My Eyes 12. You Touch My Heart

 

Nothing stays the same. What many were hoping would be a return to the form of the whole Phil Collins that was at the top of the world didn't materialize. To put such expectations on anyone would be unfair yet it seems harder to accept the more popular an artist is. Or was. This is a release by a man now in his fifties. He joined Genesis in his twenties, and became a superstar on his own in his thirties and in that first decade alone one could see changes in tastes and styles. So now that over twenty years had past, why should we expect different?

The 21st century saw Collins get married (for the third time) and have a new baby (that would be his fourth) and he seemed to finally be at peace with himself. This record is a very low key effort that seemed to reflect what he was thinking at the time. Some will argue that an artist is at their most creative when they are struggling, or even hurting - which seems to be a very sick way of looking at things. Since Collins was happy, this release is a very mellow, easy listening release. Collins announced months prior that he wouldn't be touring since he was losing his hearing due to an infection. To make matters worse, Collins was becoming less and less of a drummer and more of a singer/producer. He still drums in the studio, but the aggressiveness and obvious energetic releases from the past are all absent.

It did seem a bit odd that the one non-original, a Leo Sayer remake entitled Can't Stop Loving You would be the first single from the collection. Is this a hint that he's slipping as a writer? From the rest of the songs, apparently not. If you've heard the one song, you've heard a fair representation of everything here. A few of his more romanticish ballads such as The Least You Can Do or This Love This Heart come across as a bit stronger in the overall package, but in most cases the differences between those and the rest of the disc are minimal. The only song here that had the potential to be a call back to days of yore would be Through My Eyes, but the toned down production of the song, sadly, keeps it in sync with everything else here.

Collins uses a new producer as well as mostly new musicians (Daryl Stuermer plays on one song) so this could have something to do with the low key approach. Fortunately, the songs are all quite good. It's the fact that everything is one dimensional and unexciting that will cause many fans to hold their nose. The record, of course, flopped on the charts upon release, but it must be stated that this probably would have been the case regardless. It's a pleasant listen. In most places.

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