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Grant Lee Phillips: Writer, Time Traveler

Posted by April 27th, 2004 No Comments »

Grant Lee-Phillips, Writer, Time Traveler, to bring multi-genre songbook to 2004 Seattle
By Paul Stinson

Sporting a Napoleonic hat, field decorations and a tank emerging from his heart, Grant Lee-Phillips’ Mobilize saw the Los Angeles songwriter as a general enlisting every last bit of technology in 2001 to conquer a 21st century with a sound awash in ProTools and short on attention span, unafraid and unapologetic for a versatility that hasn’t been crushed by niche marketing.

Three years later, Phillips’ latest release, Virginia Creeper is sure to keep mortgage rate officers busy, as listeners are likely to clamor for a swing-equipped veranda befitting the perpetual sways

Grant Lee-Phillips, Writer, Time Traveler, to bring multi-genre songbook to 2004 Seattle
By Paul Stinson

Sporting a Napoleonic hat, field decorations and a tank emerging from his heart, Grant Lee-Phillips’ Mobilize saw the Los Angeles songwriter as a general enlisting every last bit of technology in 2001 to conquer a 21st century with a sound awash in ProTools and short on attention span, unafraid and unapologetic for a versatility that hasn’t been crushed by niche marketing.

Three years later, Phillips’ latest release, Virginia Creeper, is sure to keep mortgage rate officers busy, as listeners are likely to clamor for a swing-equipped veranda befitting the perpetual sways and lilts that are the album’s backbone. ‘Far End of the Night’ ruminates on the topic of time’s sloth-like qualities, “like a noose around your neck,” laced in the soothing violin countermelodies that haunt most of the album.

The album, however, is anything but a suffocating experience and moves despite the album’s stripped-down approach. Articulate as ever, Phillips makes the case that he’s a writer first but also a time-traveler with a compass pointing to history, that of his own or the historical ghosts that keep him company in “Mona Lisa” or the “Swamps of Josephine”.

A yarn-spinner or narrative midwife, the album creeps, lulls, croons and occasionally testifies consistent with everything dating back to Fuzzy and Mighty Joe Moon, the Grant Lee Buffalo classics that proved radio listeners still could stomach literate song in a Triptikless post-grunge mid-90s. Taken as an album, this is Phillips’ bookend to Mobilize, classically treated in song – including a Gram Parson’s cover – and photographed in black and white. Somewhere far away from industry magazines – at least in his mind, he lives in Los Angeles after all – this is an excursion to a time and a place where Phillips could have just as easily laid his head and called home. He’s visiting the 21st century and Seattle’s Hideaway this Friday, providing a rare opportunity to see a songwriter try on genres as if they were uniforms and still make them look like they were tailor-made.


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