Music is central to my life. I love listening to it, discussing it, performing it, creating it. I’ve been singing since childhood and started playing the guitar at around 12 years of age (after a few years of violin/viola lessons). Since the age of 16 I’ve been singing with my guitar in public, at parties, in bars, at weddings, birthdays and bar mitzvahs. (Actually, I’ve never played at a bar mitzvah, but I’m open to offers.) And just this year I’ve started teaching myself the piano.
You can read a bit more about my “career” in music here, while on this page you’ll find a looooong list of the various venues and events where I’ve performed over the years. I started writing songs around 2002. You can download and stream both my own songs and a random selection of covers from my Soundcloud page, but below you’ll find a selection of what I consider to be my best songs. I was most prolific during our first years in Switzerland and our time in Amsterdam, i.e. before the kids came along, but I usually have at least one song in the pipeline, even if finding the time and headspace can be difficult.
Reminder: you can download most of these songs from my Soundcloud page.
First In My Eyes
A song about fatherhood. I wrote this one for my son Robert. (His younger brother has his own song already!) The recording was produced by the very talented Mathieu Siegrist at K-yak Studio in Gland. There’s a video for this song here.
Fuss About The Fossa
A rough home recording of a song I wrote in response to a challenge issued by my friends in the zoo community. It definitely falls into the category of novelty songs, but I was pleased with how it turned out. Catchy!
My Silver Son
I wrote this song for Declan, our youngest son – “my only second one” – to mark his first birthday. This is a live recording from a show I did at Le Box, Carouge, in November 2015.
Wiser Heads (The Ballad of Dave & Gina)
At a charity auction in memory of my friend Iain Twigg, one of the lots on offer was a promise by me to write and record a song to order. The winning bidder, my footballing friend David Powell, asked me to write a “realistic love song” that would describe well his relationship with his then fiancée, now wife, Gina. He wanted something with an indie rock feel. All involved were happy with the end result.
2009-2013 (Amsterdam / Geneva)
Have No Regrets
I wrote this while we were living in Amsterdam. It gets a really warm response when I play it live. This recording is from a session I did at DBR Studios in Lausanne in 2013.
Aynsley (I Never Meant To Make You Cry)
Inspired by the rocky start, in an Amsterdam bar in 2009, to what would eventually turn out to be a close friendship, I’ve always thought this has an acoustic rock feel to it. This recording is also from the 2013 DBR Studios session.
If I Take You
My friend Mairéad commissioned me to write a song to which she could walk down the aisle at her 2013 wedding in Dublin. This is what I came up with. She was happy. I was happy. Phil was happy. Happy days!
Half-Hearted Love Affair
Definitely one of my favourites among my own songs – it’s a short song, but carries a lot of bitter-sweet emotion. It was written quite quickly during one of the booze’n’tunes trips I took with my Hipster buddies David and Nigel to a gîte in Lamastre, France.
It Might Be Better
This is the only recording I have of this song, from the Le Box gig in November 2015. I wrote it in Amsterdam and really enjoy singing it. It’s got a nice driving rhythm and generally goes down well live. (I distinctly remember Roger Hammond – a talented songwriter himself – telling me how much he liked this one after I sang it at an Amsterdam Songwriters’ Guild open mic night in the Backstage Hotel in 2011.)
This was written one evening in Amsterdam when I was feeling a bit low. On the surface it’s a bit depressing, but it’s also uplifting at the end in a strange way. I’ve only performed it two or three times over the years. I do like it though, so I dug it out last November for the gig at Le Box, which is where this recording originated.
We Got Geeks
A novelty song written for an open source software festival in Geneva in 2012. It was greatly appreciated by the people involved with that event – it’s a fun little ditty.
I’m Not Quite Ready
Written more or less entirely on one Friday evening in our Plainpalais apartment in Geneva, when I had been offered a promotion at work that I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to take. Nadine was away and so I wasn’t able to discuss it with her. This song helped me to clarify my thoughts. (I didn’t take the job!)
A Perfect Christmas
I’ve written lots about this song elsewhere – most recently this post. We’re still waiting for those royalty cheques to roll in!
The only duet I’ve ever written. I had the good fortune to meet Maeve Sweeney at the Listowel Writers’ Week in 2008, and she agreed to sing the female part for this recording. She really nailed it. I’m very fond of this song – I don’t perform it nearly as often as I should.
You Completely Complete Me
A cheesy little love song. It always seems to generate a few smiles when I sing it live. This recording doesn’t do the song justice – I should try to capture a live version sometime.
Another one written at the gîte in Lamastre. The lyrics are a little overwrought, but I enjoy singing it. This recording is from the time I was interviewed on Azimut FM, a radio show in Geneva dedicated to local musicians.
They Didn’t Understand
This took less than an hour to write – it kind of wrote itself once I had written the first few lines. It’s no masterpiece, but I like it. It is, as it says, just a normal song about a normal town with normal people in normal houses.
I’ll Be Around
Probably one of my strongest songs and definitely one of those that I’ve sung live most often. It owes a musical debt to a few other songs, among them Neil Finn’s She Will Have Her Way and (believe it or not) Tina Turner’s Simply The Best. It’s got a very Crowded House-ish feel to it, which was picked up by Gavin Ralston when he produced and arranged this recording for me in 2008.
Long Distance Kiss
Nadine and I were in a long distance relationship for the first few years, and I had been in a couple of others prior to that also, so I had plenty of inspiration for this one (which was, to be clear, written for Nadine!). It tends to resonate with people who are in that situation themselves. This recording is a little too “country” for my liking. I don’t sing the song as much as I used to, but it generally goes down well.
Was I Supposed To Read Your Mind?
This was inspired by a particular relationship I had a very long time ago. It’s a simple song, but I think the lyrics are strong.
My friends Marc Brondex and David Graham, both big music fans, reckon this is one of my best songs. I’ve definitely wandered down Whiskey Road from time to time… not so much these days though. This recording is from my gig at Le Box in November 2015.
2002-2003 (Mostly Ireland)
The Night Before
I distinctly remember coming up with the first few lines of this on a train in Dublin, on the way home from a party ‘the morning after the night before’. I guess it was around 2003 or so. I often finish gigs with this song – it’s definitely one of my most popular. I did a full band recording of it in 2008, but this is a live version from November 2015. (I once got an email from a complete stranger in Canada asking me to send her the lyrics, as her boyfriend seemingly liked to sing it at campfire sessions with their friends and wanted to be sure he was getting the lyrics right. That was a pretty amazing thing for me to think about.)
Sky Won’t Weep
While I had tried to write songs on many occasions from my teens into my early twenties, I think this is the first full “proper” song that I wrote. I was in Oslo, in July 2002, playing in a bar six nights a week. It was inspired by the girl I had recently said goodbye to in Paris, the girl I would eventually marry seven years later. Awwww! This recording was originally on a Minidisc that I made for her in 2004 when we were still doing the long distance thing, between Geneva and Edinburgh at that stage.
You can find all of the above songs, along with a few other originals and a selection of covers, on my Soundcloud page, from which you can also download every track.