Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sam Phillips: Don't Do Anything

So after listening to Sam Phillips' new album Don't Do Anything all week, I sat down this morning to compile a list of a couple highlights. After about a half hour's contemplation, I sheepishly realized that I had written down almost every song on the album. :)

For me, Can't Come Down and Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us are clear stand-outs, but the entire album has a lyrical, human, down-to-earth quirkiness to it. I love the raw energy that is pent-up in these songs...the boomy drums, the violins-run-rampant, the moments of old-timey swing and pop.

What I like so much about Sam Philips is how she can make a song that seems so light and airy and simple, and yet with each listen, you uncover new layers, both musically and lyrically. When I first heard Little Plastic Life, I only noticed the catchiness of the chorus. But with each consecutive listen, I started to hear how the song begins as a very organized, rigid march, a perfect intro to the theme of the "little plastic life" we build around ourselves. But with the lines "I detected fire in myself before the flame," the electric guitar comes in and suddenly the chorus becomes a celebration and release, letting go and allowing the little plastic life to burn. I think this careful craft is why Sam Phillips songs always grow on me incrementally, and I like them more and more with each listen.

The title song, Don't Do Anything, is a love song in the truest sense. On her MySpace page, Sam Phillips writes:
In one of the most important election years in the history of our United States, I am bringing out a record called Don’t Do Anything. This is not a political statement. The line of the song it’s taken from is “I love you when you don’t do anything”. I might have written this to my child, a lover, a friend, a dead person, or all of these. Maybe I wanted someone to write it to me. Maybe an extravagant expression of faith is the last thing we need this year. Maybe it’s the first. There is a lot to do in between.

Ok, now I'm getting tempted to go through my entire list of "highlights," but instead, why don't I just leave you to go enjoy the album and make your own decisions. :) Then let *me* know what *you* think!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I first learnt about Sam at the time of the Beatlesque "Martinis and Bikinis". She was about to become the next big thing. She didn't...thank God. The record company would have forced her to keep doing the same thing over and over.

Instead, she went off on a much more personal, stripped down path until only what is important is left. Good luck hearing her music on pop radio today. But this music is perfect to listen to late at night with the lights out.