After he quit the music scene in 1987, Phil Wilson stayed as far away as possible, barely even playing guitar for enjoyment. In the mid-2000s, thanks to a resurgence of interest in his excellent recordings with the June Brides, Wilson decided to return to music. He released an EP of covers in 2008 called Industrial Strength, but came back in a big way with God Bless Jim Kennedy in 2010. Over the course of ten tracks and 35 minutes, Wilson reclaims his position as one of the foremost practitioners of thoughtful guitar pop. With a band that includes two former June Brides, Wilson rips through rowdy jangle poppers like "Up to London" and the Love-quoting "The Sum Of" with an energy and passion that guys half his age must envy. He croons through the tender ballad "Found a Friend" with an admirable tenderness and care, and bounces like a happy teenager through sunny tracks like "Pop Song #32." Basically, the record sounds like it could have come out in 1987, from the hands-off production to the simple but true songwriting, it's classic grown-up indie pop that sounds timeless. As the record plays, it's hard not to get swept up in the joy that Wilson so clearly feels at being back writing and playing pop music. When the horns kick in during the breaks on "Small Town" or the harmonies blend in rich camaraderie on the title title track, it feels right. When Wilson lays out his beliefs on "I Own It" over handclaps and swirling strings, or the minor-chord melancholy of the verses in "Give Me Consolation" gives way to the powerful and tough chorus, you get a glimpse of the emotions behind the record. In the end, the music, the vocals, and the songs all combine in a magical way that indie pop fans new and old will recognize and appreciate. Love, even. Phil Wilson may not be doing anything new on God Bless Jim Kennedy, but he does everything right. Welcome back, Phil! Don't be a stranger. ~ Tim Sendra
Mojo (Publisher) (p.104) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "Wilson is proving an unforseeably durable anti-hero for our heritage-rock age."
Uncut (magazine) (p.109) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]hese 10 tracks connect instantly with Wilson's previous work: all ramshackle sweetness and pint-spilling brio, every song sounds like an old friend."
Uncut (magazine) (p.103) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[S]ongs like 'Small Town' and 'Three Days' are melodic, wise and memorable."
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