Winner of the 11th season of American Idol -- aka, the last season to feature Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez as judges -- Phillip Phillips doesn't strictly seem like a pop star, probably because he doesn't sing pop music. Phillips is in thrall to his idol Dave Matthews, patterning every little detail of his style after the jam band icon, borrowing the stuttering acoustic strums and elastic vocal phrasing, letting his folk-rock wander into jazz and smooth soul. So many elements of Phillips' 2012 post-Idol debut The World from the Side of the Moon are taken from early Dave Matthews Band albums it could easily be mistaken for a forgotten DMB record from 1997. Phillips favors both the loverman croon of Matthews ("Wanted Is Love," "A Fool's Dance") and DMB's raucous party tunes ("Get Up Get Down," written in the style of "Ants Marching") and, it has to be said, he nails his impression, getting each minor inflection precisely right. Consequently, The World from the Side of the Moon delivers upon Phillips' promise: it is a streamlined, smoothed-out Dave Matthews Band album, stripped of any of DMB's idiosyncratic quirks and instrumental virtuosity. [A Deluxe Edition included three bonus tracks.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Entertainment Weekly (p.68) - "His raspy Georgia drawl turns evocative campfire sing-alongs into stadium-size anthems." -- Grade: B
Billboard (p.40) - "Phillips sounds natural...more acolyte than imitator, which makes the album one of the more engaging champion debuts in the show's inconsistent history."