Phil Mellen aka BlackSheepLad recently released his ‘Lost Time’ EP, and here at Our Sound Music, we were taken aback by just how good this collection is. Thoughtful, modest, and genuine from the start – Phil has really outdone himself with these five tracks that chart great personal reflection in modern times.
An important note before truly starting the article is that Phil impressively plays everything himself. This EP is truly a slice of a man who, after a formative musical experience with multiple groups, spent 25 years in education with this talent on the backburner.
The first track, a personal favourite of mine, ‘Going to Sleep as the Sun Comes Up’ – begins proceedings strongly. The tone is instantly set, as is a nicely layered sound that almost reflects aspects of Mellen’s career as a teacher. There’s a warm air of authority in what he’s singing, which ultimately surrounds 2020’s Covid pandemic. ‘GTSATSCU’ is a story about not being able to sleep while ill with Covid. After revival in live performance, BlackSheepLad recorded it in early 2023 and it’s brilliant he did.
The song doesn’t try too hard, shows multi-instrumental gift and is particularly striking with a superbly rich harmony. If Mellen’s one man band (sort of) vibe was to be summarised best in a tune – I think it’s this one.
Track two, ‘Always the Grey’, moves from talk of body clocks to social media. Written about the frustrations of social media and the lack of nuances in debate – it brings into question the binary nature of society and politics. The two often spill into each other, and whilst a serious topic – there’s a pleasant juxtaposition between Phil’s effortless delivery and near-lullaby guitar melody. This perhaps hints at how our narrative can put his own spin on the news, fully construing the facts.
‘Grow Old With Me’ has a punchier bass line, slightly more strutting riff and intent than its previous track, yet it possesses a real lounge-like vibe. Everything is very present and direct while a story of simply wanting to be with someone until the end, unravels nicely.
A partner song to track 3, ‘Making Up For Lost Time’ is almost a bookend. It’s like a parallel tangent where that prior love hasn’t been found or properly nurtured until the twilight years. Put simply, this penultimate tune is about finding that love and truly making the most of it. There’s an embrace of hope in the face of outside critique: “People say that you can’t have your cake and eat it too / but with you I feel like I bit off exactly what I could chew”
The final showing from Phil is ‘Timepiece’. This track is purely instrumental and slowly builds from a plucking acoustic riff to a fine crescendo, with the injection of fresh bass, bouncing kicks and military-grade snare beats, and soft key notes. All in all, it’s a nice ribbon atop a package of songs mixed and mastered by Lynn Carol Monk at Wobbly Music’s Bakehouse studios, and of course – a self-written, self-performed burst of low-key talent.
The EP is definitely worth a listen for anyone with a taste for folk and acoustically shaded indie. As BalckSheepLad continues to snowball off of his 2022 debut album, this EP keeps his steady course moving in the right direction. Phil has every right to be proud of his work.