Grant-Lee Phillips | Virginia Creeper

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Folk: Folk Pop Rock: Americana Moods: Type: Vocal
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Virginia Creeper

by Grant-Lee Phillips

Phillips' latest album, Virginia Creeper, is a stunning collection of resonant story-songs that take the listener to new interior ports of entry.
Genre: Folk: Folk Pop
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1. Mona Lisa
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4:11 $0.99
2. Waking Memory
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4:07 $0.99
3. Lily-A-Passion
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4:30 $0.99
4. Dirty Secret
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3:37 $0.99
5. Always Friend
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3:33 $0.99
6. Calamity Jane
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3:44 $0.99
7. Josephine Of The Swamps
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5:22 $0.99
8. Far End Of The Night
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4:46 $0.99
9. Susanna Little
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6:08 $0.99
10. Wish I Knew
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11. Hickory Wind
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Grant-Lee Phillips is a consummate storyteller, a chronicler of personal and political history and mythology, whose work has been showcased both with his popular band Grant Lee Buffalo and on his own critically acclaimed solo recordings. Phillips' latest album, Virginia Creeper, is a stunning collection of resonant story-songs that take the listener to new interior ports of entry.

As with the best of Grant Lee Buffalo, Phillips new solo album mines a mother lode of mythic Americana, indelibly chiseled characters, haunting balladry and a stark kind of instrumentation that seems to both define and defy it's place in time. Where his previous outing, Mobilize, was a one-man show with Phillips playing all the instruments, Virginia Creeper is an ensemble piece, hinging on the high voltage charge of the moment.

The old world strains of "Mona Lisa," the resplendent "Lily-a-Passion" and the emotionally torn "Always Friends" are snapshots of the soul. Other songs like the enchanting delta tale "Josephine of the Swamps" and "Susanna Little" are historical epics that travel back in time to the dark crossroads of the early to mid-twentieth century. While "Susanna Little" captures the tearfully moving odyssey of the Native American begging the question "How far have we come?", the looming "Far End of the Night" casts a dashboard glow on a midnight journey, "with no savior there beside," when "time hangs like a noose."

Once voted best male vocalist by Rolling Stone, Phillips has often taken his words to soaring heights. The songs on Virginia Creeper are no exception, full of visionary cinematic lyrics of both triumph and tragedy. From the heart stricken lover in "Dirty Secret" to the romantic wild abandon of "Wish I knew" the songs are painted by stark minimal gestures -- a lone guitar, an occasional fiddle, a tinge of parlor piano, brushed drums, upright bass, Cindy Wasserman's smoky harmonies weaving with Phillips mellifluous voice. " We found this blend in our voices, I never had to say a word, we just sang..." recalls Phillips. "...there's a shared love of Merle Haggard, Ray Price, Gram Parsons. We could sing that stuff for hours, did and still do..." This pairing led Phillips to include a gorgeous cover of Parsons' "Hickory Wind".
The new album was recorded quickly, one week of tracking and another mixing at Hollywood's famed Sunset Sound Factory with Grammy Award winning recording engineer S. Husky Höskulds. "I didn't want to approach it with excessive overdubs and I couldn't have made this album alone, by myself," explains Phillips. "I'd done that with my last record, Mobilize. This time, the songs had a simplicity that would best be served by taking them into a studio with feeling, responsive musicians." Those musicians included violinist and touring veteran Eric Gorfain, pianist Zac Rae, upright bassists Sheldon Gomberg and ex-Soul Coughing member Sebastian Steinberg, along with drummer Kevin Jarvis, with whom Phillips toured to support Mobilize. Along with vocalist Cindy Wasserman and the Section Quartet, this would comprise the live in-studio group, dubbed "The Virginia Creepers." Other friends and L.A. notables such as Jon Brion (ukulele), Bill Bonk (accordion), Greg Leisz (Dobro, pedal steel & mandolin) and Danny Frankel (percussion) added brilliant finishing touches as the session approached completion.

Since parting ways in 1999 with Grant Lee Buffalo, Phillips has carved out an impressive solo career. Newsweek called Mobilize "a triumph," while The Boston Globe noted that "Phillips, like genre peers R.E.M. and U2, can still reach great heights." Those heights are achieved once again with the aptly named Virginia Creeper, an album that grows on the listener with repeated listening. "I liked the metaphor," concludes Phillips, "a slow but persistent vine, ever weaving, ever climbing-like a melody." He adds: "I also like the idea of words as vines, songs as vines and as a symbol for my life, weaving persistently. It may not appear that there's any movement going on, but nevertheless there is. There's also something vaguely antique-ish about the title, which suits my obsession with all things decaying and the ghosts that have come to dwell in my songs."


Reviews


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Todd Ethridge

Grant takes us on another journey through the American soul
It took a few listens before I felt ready to post a review. There is just so much to hear in Grant's music. The violin and gentle backing vocals wandering about on this disc were a nice suprize. Gave it a down homey feel after the intensity on Mobilize. This CD is like a Cubist painting of what America means to me. All those points of view are taking you to a place you couldn't even imagine before.
Wow!
Todd

Will Toy

This album is the best I have heard on here
Without a doubt Grant did his thing. You were great on Cold Pizza. Keep it up Grant-lee.

Chris Newsome

Grant Lee continues to improve and impress
Virginia Creeper is a captivating album full of Grant Lee's trademark songwriting. I can't help but wonder why the song "Mona Lisa" isn't a top 40 hit - but it still retains the quality that separates Grant Lee from the pack. This is a fantastic CD and really shows how much an artist can improve themselves - his stuff is always fantastic, and I have to agree with an earlier review that questions how much better he can get. Every album, I am blown away. Thanks for all you give us!

Nancy Anderson

One listen and you're hooked
Grant-Lee Phillips has a rich honest voice. His tasteful lyrics accompanied by subtle harmonies and violin gently swept me along before I knew what was happening. This is one of those rare albums that sells itself on the first listen.

Jenny Raymond

Full of promise, and it delivers!
I hate buying unknowns, but this one seemed so full of promise that I did. Gilmore Girls did not steer me wrong! This CD really delivers, with songs that are simply wonderful! Mellow and sweet, perfect for sitting by the lake and being lazy, or a long stretch down the highway. Its a soundtrack for life that can get you tapping your toes and doing a headbob when you weren't paying attention!

busani ndlovu(zimbabwe)

..and the music god said let there be Grant Lee
am lost for words..yours songs always take me to and remind me of places i have never been to and make me no want to come back. for a black young man in a developing third world country you give me more than an film or news can about the places we'll never see

Mindy Winchester

possibly his lovliest batch of tunes yet
Sometimes the problem with being a long time fan of an artist is that one's expectations can run so high disapointment seems inevitable. Not so this time around. Virginia Creeper offers possibly his lovliest batch of tunes yet. My only question is where can he go from here? Never have his vocal melodies been so gorgeous and engaging, his voice as rich and emotive, his lyrics as clever and intruiging,his music as captivating and delightful. Every song is a bright surprise and gets better with repeated playing.