New Jersey Stage logo
New Jersey Stage Menu

Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: Kathy Phillips’ ‘Soul Catcher’

By Bob Makin

originally published: 11/30/2017

Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: Kathy Phillips’ ‘Soul Catcher’


Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: Kathy Phillips’ ‘Soul Catcher’


It’s been 11 years since Northwest Jersey singer-songwriter Kathy Phillips’ last LP, but she has returned with the philosophical fun of “Soul Catcher.”


Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info

Has it really been 16 years since Kathy Phillips’ brilliant debut album, “Sway?” Wow, that time flew! I remember like it was yesterday giving her the Makin Waves Awards for Best Female Artist and Song of the Year for “Leaves Changing.” 

With her long-awaited third LP, “Soul Catcher,” Phillips switches gears by sprinkling some Beatlesque pop onto her jazz-folk garden. She also has changed producers. Having teamed with Black Potatoe Records owner Matt Angus on her debut and the 2006 follow-up, “Carries You Away,” she now is produced by her longtime guitarist Walt Bibinger, who also co-wrote all 16 songs on “Soul Catcher.”  

Walt cohesively melds their varied styles, including country gospel, but with a little more self-editing, they would have made this good record into a great one. I realize that to a songwriter, songs are like children and that it’s difficult to choose one over the other, but at the end of the day, the artist has to cut the cord and do what’s best for the art. At a much more manageable 12 tracks, “Soul Catcher” would have been a better and more impactful record, which I believe Phillips and Bibinger intended, given the wisdom about quality living that they share throughout. Maybe it’s a salute to the number of years since Phillips’ debut, but 16 songs is an awful lot to ask of a listener. 

At least things start off great with the Brian Wilson/Phil Spector-inspired “Forever with You.” Also every bit as good as anything on “Sway” are the tongue-in-cheek country gospel of “Truth,” the “Hey Bulldog”-derived wisdom of “Live, Laugh, Love,” the vocally rich folk-rock of the heartbreaking yet reassuring “Better Days,” the dream-affirming funk-pop of “You’ll See,” the sassy jazz of “My Heart to You,” and the epic closer “Set Me Free,” especially the Santana-sounding bridge. I particularly love the sincere fun of “Truth,” which contemplates “a truth you can’t drink away,” and “Better Days,” which sounds like Alison Kraus and Union Station sitting in with the Grateful Dead.

Unfortunately, there are a handful of songs that don’t deserve to be on “Soul Catcher,” such as the cliché-ridden “Life’s Song,” the insipid “What’s Your Dream” and the sing-song saccharine of “What to Do.” I believe “Life’s Song” could have been great, especially with those luscious pop harmonies behind Phillips’ sweet Natalie Merchant-like vocal, but her lyrics are a mixed bag of wise and trite. Like nearly all of this record, the song has an extremely positive message for which Phillips and Bibinger should be applauded, but there is a fine line between uplifting and corny, and “Life’s Song” waivers. 

The same could be said for “Now,” a Roy Orbison-inspired number that is vocally rich but too repetitive to be completely rewarding. I must say, however, that throughout “Soul Catcher,” Bibinger captures gorgeous, delicious Beatlesque backing vocals by him, Phillips and their longtime band mate, Kim Williams, whose rich talent also can be heard on the record’s keyboards.

Phillips doesn’t have much time to play out with her original material because she frequently appears as Stevie Nicks in the popular Fleetwood Mac tribute band Tusk, which also features Williams in the role of Christine McVee. Find out more at

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for info

Bob Makin is the reporter for and a former managing editor and still a contributor to The Aquarian Weekly, which launched this column in 1988. Contact him at Like Makin Waves at

Makin Waves’ Record of the Week: Kathy Phillips’ ‘Soul Catcher’



Lee Brice: Me & My Guitar

Thursday, February 22, 2024 @ 8:00pm
State Theatre New Jersey
15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901
category: music

Click here for full description

The Simon & Garfunkel Story

Friday, February 23, 2024 @ 8:00pm
Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC)
100 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960
category: music

Click here for full description

Growin’ Up: An Evening of Two One-Act Musical Memoirs with Matt Butler and Mike Montali

Friday, February 23, 2024 @ 8:00pm
Outpost In The Burbs
40 S Fullerton Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042
category: music

Click here for full description

Click here for more events

Listings are available for $10 and included with our banner ad packages.

Click here for more info.



Newton Theatre hosts The Last Waltz Celebration featuring The THE BAND Band & Special Guests

(NEWTON, NJ) -- The Newton Theatre presents The Last Waltz Celebration featuring The THE BAND Band and special guests on Friday, May 24, 2024 at 8:00pm. They will bring to life one of the most historic concerts of the rock era.

New Jersey Symphony Presents Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony

Westminster Conservatory Faculty Recital Series to present two free children's concerts on Sunday

Woodbridge Township presents Screaming Orphans at The Avenel Performing Arts Center

Click here for more event previews

New Jersey Stage

© 2024 by Wine Time Media, LLC
PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762

Nobody covers the Arts
throughout the Garden State
like New Jersey Stage!

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms. If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Threads, and on our RSS feed

Art | Comedy | Dance | Film | Music | Theatre | Ad Rates | About Us | Pitch a Story | Links | Radio Shows | Privacy Policy