The first song, "Friends", has already been heard live. It's a Fishman-led, hard charging, heavy song that reminds one of an early Pink Floyd song without all the psychedelic flowers. This song is where the title comes from, so I guess it's only natural to kick off the album with it. It's a weird way to enter the album with it's heavy snare hits and straight ahead drumming, which is not Fishman's general style of drumming.
It leads into the light, acoustic and lilting "Breath and Burning" which was my favorite new song on this past tour. The song drifts from a light reggae beat into a Memphis soul horn section that rages with Page all over the top of the horns. It translates well to the stage and I expect we will hear it quite a bit more. Look for this one on Fall tour.
"Blaze On" is up next and I don't think I need to tell any Phish fans about this song. It's a driving, Meters-influenced, meditation on going towards life with all the energy one can muster. Even if life has knocked you back, the song tells you to keep on moving and keep going. It's nice to hear the lyrics up front and completely intelligible . The live version is hot and the album version doesn't slack off any, in fact, it fades out with some Trey scat-singing, where the band would normally take it into a jam.
The next tune,"Tide Turns", starts with another Stax, Tower of Power, Memphis-style, horn section. It sounds better than it did on it's live excursions. The album cut is a mature, fully-fleshed out song. Trey takes the lead and it has the lyrics of the a ballad but it rests on the power of those horns and "Tide Turns" turns out to be a good album version of a song that didn't cut it live on Summer Tour.
"Waking Up Dead" comes roaring up after "Things People Do" with an almost Eighties feel. It has a middle eastern guitar figure over a solid Page piano lick and when Mike starts singing, the song takes on a dreamlike state. Between each verse there is just a taste of a jam portion that the band could stretch out in concert. I'm looking forward to hearing this one live. It features some tasty use of Page's clavinet before melting into a spacey bridge. A very solid effort from Mike and will only grow in concert.
The softly sung "Running Out of Time" is a nice Trey ballad in the vein of "Lifeboy". This album is starting to remind me more and more of Hoist or Billy Breathes. This nice little ballad ends with Trey whistling the pretty melody. It's just a short break into one of the true breakout new jam songs, "No Men in No Man's Land". There is not much to say about this. Everybody that cares, already knows how much this song has grown live and this version just adds the horns that seems to be this albums' signature device.
Written by: Greg Heffelfinger