Music and performing took its hold of Paul at an early age; by the age of four, he had already played “When the Saints Go Marching In” at the Cincinnati Conservatory. Unfulfilled by the academic pursuit of piano which continued through college, he began playing guitar and writing songs, and soon set his mind on pursuing music in a big city. It was the flip of a coin that would serendipitously lead Paul to New York City where he immersed himself in the local music scene by teaming up with local indie-folk band Spinoza, who’s first release, “Groove Like Corduroy” received critical acclaim. The album release was accompanied by regional touring.
A few years later, needing a breath of fresh air (literally) and inspired by the New England coast, Paul and the band moved to a small fishing village on the north shore of Boston. The band amicably broke up shortly after recording their second album The Inevitable Movement Onward, allowing Paul to begin performing more of his own music under the moniker “Sheffer Stephens.” It was in the Boston city subways that Paul quickly honed his performance skills and developed his signature sound – an unapologetic blend of rock, country, folk and soul. A passing train only gives an artist a few minutes to make a lasting impression, and Paul swiftly garnered a small local following allowing him to begin performing at multiple venues up and down the East Coast. During this time he released his first solo record, Shooting Cars, Building Stars. At the same time Phillips continued to play bass and tour with the funk rock outfit, Nico, which saw five independent releases over the next few years and regional touring throughout the Northeast.
Neither New York City, nor the dreams of pursuing personal music interests are easily shaken and Paul returned to New York a few years later to record his second solo album, Every Time I Leave with producer and friend William Berlind. For this album he shook the moniker, preferring to lead simplify with his given name, Paul J. Phillips. Every Time I Leave is best described as “jangly roots-rock Americana,” colored with influences from southern traditional gospel, rock and blues and continues to receive fresh critical acclaim as well as increased momentum on Americana and college radio stations throughout the United States and Europe.
In 2013, Paul returned to recording with indie rock producer Kieran Kelly at his studio, The Buddy Project, (home to Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoise, Angus & Julia Stone’s Down The Way). With the help of Kelly, and undoubtedly influenced by the energy and grit of his time in New York City, Magic marks a departure, demonstrating a more focused and straight ahead rock and roll— driving, and back to basics. Early reviews describe Paul’s “knack for memorable melodies and soulful, bluesy delivery” all on display , and “Magic” reached #1 in Denmark in July.
A release in the summer of 2013 was delayed by an off road motorcycle accident, but in the summer of 2014 Phillips hit the streets with his band to promote the new release by touring the Midwest, South and East Coast, and West Coast dates are in the works for late fall.