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Don’t Do Anything
Artist: Sam Phillips
Label: ©2008 Nonesuch Records

Loving people who don’t do anything back is the premise of the title track on Sam Phillips latest release. Her first CD since her divorce from T-Bone Burnett and 2004’s A Boot And A Shoe, this is somewhere stylistically between Martinis And Bikinis (1994) and Fan Dance (2001).  Sparse singer-songwriter pop music is her modus operandi, so much so, that percussion is all but given a backseat through much of this effort.
The dirty guitar on an otherwise sparse opening “No Explanations” sets the stage for the nuances of this gorgeous project. “Little Plastic Life” references domestic dreams we seem to place on ourselves. “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us” is a tribute to the swing gospel of ‘40’s radio and the persevering female guitarist-spirit of Rosetta Tharp used in a metaphorical sense.  It helps that Allison Krauss and Robert Plant covered this song in their collaborative effort recently. This release is like opening a classic bottle of wine, smooth and consistent.
After listening to her latest interview on NPR, I now understand why she left the “Christian” music machine. I recommend that you go to her website to listen for yourself. Growing up and living in L.A., she seems to embrace the notion of enduring as an artist, much like Bob Dylan, rather than latching onto a brief notion of fame. Hollywood tends to create disposable fame. I am not sure where she stands in her faith these days, not to say this has to be considered at all in reference to her inspiring work, but I am sure long time fans, back to her Leslie days, would benefit. Though, it is probably safe to say that some might not be as open minded. 
August 2008


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