Grant Lee Phillips

By Peter Hemminger

I typed in “Virginia creeper” on Google to see what I could learn. Apparently it’s a fast-growing vine often confused with poison ivy. The leaves don’t cause itching, but the berries are poisonous. It can also become parasitic and smother the shrubs it grows on.

Virginia Creeper is also a glam-rock/industrial band that is “a deranged conspiracy scheming to undermine established authorities.”

Neither of these facts seem all that relevant to Grant Lee Phillips’ new album.

Its warm, rustic tint is the antithesis of glamorous and it’s certainly not menacing enough for the parasitic reference. But somehow the title still seems fitting, evoking just the right slow-paced rural sensibilities. Phillips’ latest is a confident song cycle firmly in the roots-rock tradition, full of endearing melodies sung over organic arrangements.

The song writing is sharp and Phillips’ vocals are warm and soothing, but odds are this album will end up ignored through no fault of its own. After all, used CD bins are full of solid albums that aren’t hip enough for the indie crowd but aren’t really a part of the mainstream either.

Listen to it anyway.

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