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Phantom Limb

Phantom Limb
The Phantom Limb sound is an indefinable blend of classic southern soul and country blues. Their honest, melancholic, Bristolian edge creates one of the most original and compelling new propositions of recent years.
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Biography

One listen to Phantom Limb and you instantly find yourself transported to that all-too-often unexplored crossroads between country music and old style R&B. This is a band steeped in a tradition where the two genres share their musical DNA. It's The Staples Singers fronting The Band in The Last Waltz, Ray Charles striking gold when he made his first country album, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham down in Muscle Shoals writing Do Right Woman, a song that would go on to be recorded by both Aretha Franklin and The Flying Burrito Brothers.

"Country and gospel are the same, just with different race singers," points out Phantom Limb singer Yolanda Quartey. "People have tried to segregate music, but it's impossible. When I was a kid, I sang Dolly Parton as well as Aretha Franklin. The Staples Singers play a really big part in who the heck I am. But at the same time, The Band are pivotally important to what we do."

Against this rich, heady mix of country and classic soul, it's something of a surprise to note that Phantom Limb are actually from Bristol, and not some sleepy town in the U.S. It's also worth pointing out straight away that Phantom Limb are a white-male band fronted by a black woman; an unusual proposition, even today. "I definitely think what Yo is doing is brave," says guitarist Stew Jackson. "It's not what might be expected from a singer like her."

Phantom Limb formed in 2004, and released their self-titled debut album in 2008. Yet it is with their second offering - The Pines - that you sense they're truly stepping out to the front of the stage. It is a towering follow-up, comprising twelve tracks written on the road, on location in rural France and back home in Bristol. The results were subsequently produced by Marc Ford (The Black Crowes) in an impressively focused nine days at Compound Studio in Signal Hill

New surroundings signified a new atmosphere for the band, which can be felt across these recordings. "Signal Hill is quite a weird place," points out Stew. "It's its own city within California, although it's completely surrounded by Long Beach. It was the first settling place, ‘cause it's where all the oil reserves are, so there's still those big hammer pumps just dotted around the streets." The Pines soon emerged amidst what Yolanda describes as "oil central. Everywhere you turned your head you could see these things bobbing up and down, and you could feel the breeze coming in off the Pacific."

Environment aside, another huge factor in the making of The Pines was the band's willingness to open themselves up to being produced by Marc Ford, after Jackson self-produced their debut album. "It's not right, I don't think, for someone to produce their own record," he argues. Nonetheless, preliminary sessions with an outside influence proved to be tough, as Stew recalls: "the band would play a song and Marc would go, ‘Right, let's try this and that', and pull it apart. The first few days were quite tricky and there were times where we wanted to kill him." It was on their first day off during proceedings that Phantom Limb listened back to what they had actually accomplished. "All of a sudden," says Stew, "everything made sense."

The music contained within The Pines is intimate, expressive and highly emotional: see the bruised-hearted, Muscle Shoals vibes of Give Me A Reason, together with the hushed, dignified beauty of Hollow Eyes. It is also a record based upon a single image, as captured in the title track. "The Pines, lyrically, kind of describes the album," says Yolanda. "It's about being in a situation that just isn't conducive to you being creative or happy. For me, the band is escapism. It allows me to get away from the things I'm not interested in - having to work in tired musical situations - and get to the things that I am interested in."

The Pines themselves, then, act as a central metaphor for a longing to break out, and creatively, Phantom Limb appears to provide these expert musicians with the opportunity to do just that. The title track, says Yolanda, sees its protagonist "running off into the woods. And then when everyone's kicking off, it's fine - because you're some weird loner having a great time." Laugh Like You're Mad, meanwhile, is all about "going mental in Bristol." The resigned, working-for-the-man sigh of Gravy Train summarises these small-town frustrations most succinctly: "it's about understanding that sometimes you've just got to make money."

Indeed, Phantom Limb have spent years attempting to make such ends meet. By day, various members of the group have earned their crust as session musicians, vocalists and songwriters, skirting round the edges of the industry. Along with Quartey and Jackson, Dan Moore (keyboards), Luke Cawthra (electric guitar), Andy Lowe (bass) and Matt Jones (drums) have connections on one level or another to artists as diverse as Pee Wee Ellis, Percy Sledge, Tom Jones and Dr Feelgood. Together, Jackson and Quartey wrote Hopes & Fears for Will Young, while the guitarist has written for Massive Attack (contributing to two tracks on 2010's Heligoland - the Hope Sandoval-sung Paradise Circus and the Damon Albarn-fronted Saturday Come Slow).

For Yolanda, Phantom Limb is the place where, musically, she at last feels at home, after beginning singing at the age of five. "My voice was pretty much incongruously massive from a very young age," she laughs. "But I always had country licks more than soul licks. So I thought, ‘I have to try to find a place for them', and it took years." In her own right, Quartey has also performed as a featured artist with Nitin Sawhney (The Devil & Midnight, So Long) and Chase & Status (Blind Faith): she spent the summer of 2008 touring with Massive Attack and has sung backing vocals for everyone from Adele to Dizzee Rascal.

By her own admission, though, being a natural front-person, Yolanda finds it hard to remain in the shadows. "I'm not very adept at blending in, which is apparently the problem," she laughs. "You're supposed to be able to shrink back. I've got to play down my voice and that's the worst thing, actually: I've got to sing within myself and try to hide my character. It's too much." However, those who've witnessed Phantom Limb centre-stage have been quick to fall for her charms: having performed at the likes of South By Southwest and Glastonbury, they've already opened for the likes of Rumer (at her personal request), Candi Staton and Solomon Burke.

Despite a career spent in the background, The Pines sees the collective that is Phantom Limb given ample individual room to shine. With guest appearances from the likes of pedal steel legend Greg Leisz (Robert Plant/Alison Krauss, Bob Dylan) and, on backing vocals, Jay Buchanan of Zeppelin-shaped LA rockers, Rival Sons ("He has a dangerous voice," warns Quartey), the band's second record is an eclectic, assured and - most importantly, perhaps - natural-sounding album. It reveals itself in layers, listen after listen. "All of our favourite records are full of imperfections and full of character," Stew points out. "Records aren't made with character anymore. Stuff is put onto Pro Tools and looped and tuned and made perfect. We've made a record that isn't like that."

"That's what this second album is all about," Yolanda decides. "It's real. It sounds a lot more like a band in a room, which I think gives it more vibe." And while it may have taken them time, Phantom Limb have at last found a space that is very much their own, in and amongst The Pines.

www.phantomlimbmusic.com


Management

caro@phantomlimbmusic.com

Discography

The Pines (Special Edition)
The Pines (Special Edition) (2013)

naimcd176

the long-awaited follow up LP, produced by Marc Ford, featuring exclusive bonus tracks

The Pines (180gm LP + HD Download Code)
The Pines (180gm LP + HD Download Code) (2012)

naimlp167

stunning 180gm LP complete with HD Download code (on delivery)

The Pines
The Pines (2012)

naimcd166

the long-awaited follow up LP, produced by Marc Ford of personal heroes The Black Crowes

The Pines (Single)
The Pines (Single) (2011)

naimcs166

CSNY fronted by Mavis Staples with a sprinkling of Bristolian melancholy = amazing comeback single

Live In Bristol
Live In Bristol (2010)

naimcd143

An epic homecoming performance with special guests Sigamos String Quartet

Don't Say A Word [Live] (Free Download)
Don't Say A Word [Live] (Free Download) (2009)

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Last Chance Saloon (Free Download)
Last Chance Saloon (Free Download) (2009)

naimcd136.5

a country-gospel favourite from PL's live set. free download!

Phantom Limb [Special Edition]
Phantom Limb [Special Edition] (2009)

naimcd140

The acclaimed debut album complete with new single 'Draw The Line' and special edition packaging

Draw The Line (SINGLE)
Draw The Line (SINGLE) (2009)

naimcs136

The infectious new single from the UK's premiere country-soul select.

Phantom Limb 180gm LP
Phantom Limb 180gm LP (2009)

naimlp122

This southern soul sextet are the most exciting new band to emerge from Bristol in the last 10 years

Don't Say A Word (SINGLE)
Don't Say A Word (SINGLE) (2008)

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The debut single on 7" wax, also featuring six-piece version of 'Good Fortune'

Phantom Limb [Download Only]
Phantom Limb [Download Only] (2008)

naimcd120

This southern soul sextet are the most exciting new band to emerge from Bristol in the last 10 years

Videography

Reviews | all reviews >>

Phantom Limb in Maverick
4 Stars

“Contemporary music at its best...outstanding”
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Phantom Limb - The Pines in Record Collector
4 Stars

“beautifully arranged and played…Extraordinary”
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Phantom Limb 'The Pines' in Properganda
“you owe it to yourself to check out the soulful, emotive and eloquent Phantom Limb sound, truly, a musical gift that keeps on giving.”
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Newcastle Courier review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"somewhat empowering...pleasant record"
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Burton Mail review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"The band may be from the West Country but their sound is rooted firmly in the States"
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Altsounds review Phantom Limb - The Pines
“impressive album”
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Dead Press review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
“With a little less fine-tuning to suit an easy-listening audience, Phantom Limb could become a great rock band. The talent is most certainly there, we’re just waiting for their true colours to be shown.”
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Ulster Star review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"a clear blend of musical styles and traditios, with country riffs joining together with a soulful base and gospel vibes, all topped off with memories of Motown classics"
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Bristol Evening Post review Phantom Limb - 'Gravy Train'
"Gravy Train is a upbeat affair with some juicy hooks"
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The Telegraph review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
4 Stars

"an airy west coast twang guilds the strong melodies"
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Fatea review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"Essential listening"
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Music OMH review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"you're left pining for that little bit more"
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The Word Magazine review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"Luxuriant, harmonised ‘70s guitar pop"
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The Guardian review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"country-soul...dripping with lyrical references...always pleasant"
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The Metro review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"music is easy on the ears and expertly played"
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The Independent review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
4 Stars

"Phantom Limb have refined their sound further to more clearly occupy the kind of country-soul territory once inhabited by the likes of Dobie Gray and The Staple Singers"
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Shout 4 Music review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"occasional gospel tinged touch here and there... a pleasant listen"
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Contact Music review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
2performances from the band are impressive throughout"
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Glasswerk review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"not only the finest album I've heard so far this year but one that I confidently expect to see on the ‘Best of 2012' "
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Classic Rock review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"Bristol is the new home of country rock. And six-piece Phantom Limb are at its core"
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Get Ready To Rock review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"much like Des'ree covering a CSN number that morphs into a Rod Stewart style transatlantic soul groove."
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Entertainment Focus review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"“The Pines ticks all the boxes in terms of being a memorable track jam packed full of quality musicianship and a booming set of vocal chords that leaves us begging for more as the number draws to a close.”
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FWD Music review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"a heart-wrenchingly pessimistic outlook on life, and a continual dedication to their outstanding musicianship."
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Sound XP review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
“If the foottapping mandolin and warm harmonies don't convince you that it's actually darn good then Yolanda Quartey's fabulous rich soaring vocals surely will”
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UNCUT Magazine review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"a solid seam of Southern soul, rock, country and gospel, leading from the front with the righteous holler of Yolanda Quartey"
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Indie London review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
“It’s steeped in classic values and difficult not to fall for, especially if you’re also a fan of country or Fleetwood Mac"
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The Music Fix review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"Confident, soulful, country-tinged fare that just needs someone at Radio 2 to hear it."
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Subba Cultcha review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"The year might only be a few weeks old but I doubt we'll see another British record quite like this one in 2012."
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Blues & Soul review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"A gut bucket rolling rocker with divine backing vocals and some pure emotional conviction"
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Music News review Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
4 Stars

"If this had been an album from the 70’s mid-south I’d probably mark it up as a lost classic but this is by a band from Bristol so I guess that makes it a now classic – either way, classic."
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The Guardian reviews Phantom Limb - 'The Pines'
"Phantom Limb The Pines: What modern pop has lacked recently is a band that fuses country and soul. Led by the wonderful Yolanda Quartey, Bristolians Phantom Limb do the job with a mix of poignancy and sensuality."
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The Kaje announce Phantom Limb 'The Pines' as Single of The Week!!
"sends shivers down your spine"
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All Gigs make Phantom Limb 'The Pines' Single of the Week
"best single of the week...the equivalent of having your privates kissed by angels. Probably."
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Phantom Limb in Vanguard
“amazing, rich, smooth and clear…fantastic”
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Phantom Limb in Contact Music
“There is no doubt that Live In Bristol is a superb and captivating live recording evidencing top-notch song writing and performance from a truly cohesive and talented musical collective, Phantom Limb; very impressive.”
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Phantom Limb in Bluesandsoul.com
4 Stars

"Phantom Limb exemplify what good music is all about...cherish them with all your might"
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Phantom Limb in The Music Critic
5 Stars

"they are a very special band indeed."
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Phantom Limb in All Gigs
5 Stars

"how on Earth are [Phantom Limb] not already shifting millions."
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Phantom Limb in AAA Music
"To call this album flawless would be no mere hyperbole - I feel that I am looking at one of the greatest records of the last ten years."
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Phantom Limb in Shout 4 Music
3½ Stars

"The combination of country and soul that characterises Phantom Limb’s sound is as smooth and chilled as an iced measure of Johnnie Walker"
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Phantom Limbs "Live In Bristol" on thekaje.com
4 Stars

"leaves the listener breathlessly spine tingled."
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Phantom Limb on Acoustic Magazine
'In all, the band ooze a deep soul, amalgamating everything they love about music and delivering it in a fashion that is highly commendable.'
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Phantom Limb in Tottenham Journal
4 Stars

"Traditional genres get a well-executed, heartfelt and genuinely moving update."
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Phantom Limb in Star Magazine
4 Stars

"smooth and sultry vocals slide over the pared-down bluesy country numbers and send shivers up your spine"
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Phantom Limb in Metro
"well worth lingering over for its tales of love, lust and loss. Prepare to be spirited away by their sound."
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Phantom Limb in Reading Chronicle
""exceptionally talented musicians that make old fashioned good music"
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Phantom Limb in Time Out
"a damn fine blend of harmony-drenched coutry-meets-soul; this is musical food of the highest order"
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Phantom Limb in Clash Magazine
"grounded by the spot-on rootsy backing; truly this is group effort with all players contributing tastefully and expertly."
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Phantom Limb in The Independent
4 Stars

"an intimate, emotionally potent style of country-soul music...a phenomenal talent"
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Phantom Limb in XYZ
"Bristol's best kept secret"
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Phantom Limb in Oxford Journal
"enigmatic songwriting and raw elegance"
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Phantom Limb in Maverick Magazine
"don't miss out on this awesome group that have certainly put soul back onto the country map with justifiable success."
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Phantom Limb in Western Telegraph
"Yolanda Quartey is one of the finest voices of her generation"
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Phantom Limb in Players Club
3 Stars

"an old school soul feel and one of the more elegant British vocalists in recent years"
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Phantom Limb in Northern Echo
"If there's a better voice out there at the moment, I've yet to hear it."
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Phantom Limb in Royston Crow
4 Stars

"well executed, heartfelt and genuinely moving"
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Phantom Limb in Saffrom Walden Reporter 24
4 Stars

"Yolana Quartey's powerful, smoked honey voice is an instant attention-grabber"
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Phantom Limb in Hitchin Comet
4 Stars

"a case in point and a reminder for X Factor hopefuls of what real quality sounds like"
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Phantom Limb in Hammersmith and Fulham News
"gutsy, soul gusto and super-polished gospel grandeur"
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Phanton Limb on BBC Music
'they’re a sextet filled with the kind of country soul that once made Primal Scream scurry off to Memphis in search of their inner Rolling Stones'
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Phantom Limb in The Linc
"an astounding ability to craft genuinely delightful songs"
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Phantom Limb on Glasswerk.com
"Bristol's best kept secret...a unique and vitally important band"
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Phantom Limb in Daily Express
4 Stars

"lush semi-acoustic backdrops. An intriguing release"
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Phantom Limb in Essex Enquirer
"Phantom Limb will definitely restore your faith in contemporary music with their enigmatic songwriting and raw elegance"
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Phantom Limb in Fife Free Press
"from opening gentleness to to the all preaching, this is a lesson in vocal delivery"
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Phantom Limb in Bristol Evening Post
4 Stars

"an accomplished brand of country soul...a fine peice of work"
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Phantom Limb in Daily Music Guide
3 Stars

"you won't encounter many vocalists like Quartey in your lifetime"
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Phantom Limb review in Bornemouth Daily Echo
"Debut outing for promised Bristol outfit who impressed at Glastonbury."
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Hi Fi Choice Phantom Limb LP Review
5 Stars

a great sounding slab of vinyl with broad bandwidth and decent dynamics.
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Phantom Limb review on BBC Online
"A quality album, and band, to restore your faith in contemporary music."
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Phantom Limb review in Dorset Echo
"Incredible stuff."
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Phantom Limb review in Bristol Evening Post
4 Stars

"You wouldn't know it listening to them, but Phantom Limb are a Bristol band."
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Phantom Limb review in Daily Star
"Imagine the Mad Professor helming an album of Crosby, Still and Nash covers by Aretha Franklin and you'll get their classy vibe."
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Phantom Limb review in Birmingham Evening Mail
"On the verge of soaring heavenwards"
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Phantom Limb: Don't Say A Word review on Blues and Soul
3½ Stars

"Definitely one to watch..."
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Phantom Limb review on Female First
3 Stars

"Indefinable blend of classic southern soul and country blues."
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