Phil Roy grew up in Philadelphia during the '70s, when Philly soul ruled the airwaves. As a young guitar player (starting at age nine, his teacher was in Gamble & Huff's house band), hearing jazz from John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock led Roy to study at Berklee. It was at Berklee that he realized he didn't have the chops to make it as a jazz guitarist, but a class on songwriting opened up another avenue in music for him.
After writing some songs, Roy moved to Los Angeles, where he put together Carrera, which was then signed and dropped by Warner Bros. after one album. The band changed names and was signed and dropped by EMI after one album. Roy then gave up on the performance end of music and became a staff writer for several publishers, achieving some success by having his songs performed by Ray Charles, Joe Cocker, Widespread Panic, and others. Even so, Roy was feeling unfulfilled, realizing "that I was writing songs to get on commercial radio when I wasn't even listening to commercial radio!" He decided that writing and recording an album of his own was the thing to do.
His debut, Grouchyfriendly, was recorded in 2000 and managed to sell 8,000 copies without a distributor, leading to his being named 2002 Independent Artist of the Year by Musician's Atlas magazine. He followed it up with Issues + Options, which was then picked up by Or Music and re-released in May 2003. After a breif hiatus from the studio, Roy returned with Great Longing in May 2007.