The World From the Side of the Moon

Like his name, Phillip Phillips' music often seems redundant: When we've already got Dave Matthews and Jason Mraz, why do we need another earnestly raspy balladeer with ace acoustic-guitar skills? The American Idol winner is especially hard to take in covers, like his scary-in-the-wrong-way version of "Thriller" (from the Target deluxe edition). He's far better in originals like "Gone, Gone, Gone" and his hit "Home," which build from folksy picking to hooting power-ballad choruses, a pleasantly popified take on Arcade Fire. Those songs are redundant too – but the tunes leaven Phillips' overbearing self-seriousness.

Listen to 'The World From the Side of the Moon' 

From The Archives Issue 1170: November 22, 2012