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Virginia Creeper
     

Virginia Creeper

3.6 3
by Grant Lee Phillips
 

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Grant Lee Phillips has scaled back the arrangements of his songs a great deal on Virginia Creeper, his third solo outing, and the starkness helps spotlight his remarkable singing voice, which sounds at times like John Lennon, sometimes like Michael Stipe, and increasingly a little like

Overview

Grant Lee Phillips has scaled back the arrangements of his songs a great deal on Virginia Creeper, his third solo outing, and the starkness helps spotlight his remarkable singing voice, which sounds at times like John Lennon, sometimes like Michael Stipe, and increasingly a little like Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen. Like Springsteen, Phillips centers his songwriting in a kind of mythic America, an approach he used as well in his former band, Grant Lee Buffalo. But it is an approach that works only if the songs and the characters in them are believable, and Phillips' carefully considered, ornate lyrics often work against that believability. It's an old artistic dilemma -- finding a way to combine complexity and simplicity in a single stroke, and it took Springsteen a while to find that balance, too. The starkness of the sound on Virginia Creeper definitely moves Phillips closer to that aim, and there are some striking songs here that have a lean, powerful ambiance, most notably "Calamity Jane," which appears to be a song about Jane Fonda, and the epic "Josephine of the Swamps," a tune with overreaching lyrics that is just so damn good, it pulls you in anyway. Songs like these are the reason Phillips' fans are going to love this album. The poet Robinson Jeffers once said it was hard to set fire to too much thought. We wouldn't want Grant Lee Phillips to think less, but sometimes its best to not show it, to strip back some of the artifice and let the listener do the work. It's a balancing act that is within Phillips' grasp, and Virginia Creeper moves him closer.

Product Details

Release Date:
02/24/2004
Label:
Zoe Records
UPC:
0601143104329
catalogNumber:
431043

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Grant-Lee Phillips   Primary Artist,Banjo,Guitar,Piano,Vocals,Group Member
Jon Brion   Ukulele,Group Member
Richard Dodd   Cello,Group Member
Danny Frankel   Percussion,Group Member
Greg Leisz   Dobro,Mandolin,Pedal Steel Guitar,Group Member
Sebastian Steinberg   Upright Bass,Group Member
Bill "Luigi" Bonk   Accordion,Group Member
Eric Gorfain   Violin,Group Member
Sheldon Gomberg   Upright Bass,Group Member
Zac Rae   Keyboards,Vibes,Group Member
Leah Katz   Viola,Group Member
Cindy Wasserman   Vocals,Group Member

Technical Credits

Gram Parsons   Composer
Grant-Lee Phillips   Composer,Producer,Prints
S. "Husky" Hoskulds   Engineer
Bob Buchanon   Composer
Eric Gorfain   String Arrangements

Customer Reviews

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Virginia Creeper 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I heard "Mona Lisa" on a sampler CD and liked it very much. I liked it so much that I decided to buy Grant-Lee Phillips' entire album featuring this song. Much to my dismay, though, many of the songs on the CD were boring in a musical sense, and the interesting ones, the ones that truly showcased Phillips' voice, in my opinion, were depressing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
"Virginia Creeper" is a beautiful body of work from beginning to end, characterized by the artist's vocal and stylistic talents. Grant-Lee Philips succeeds in refinement of technique and a smooth delivery of composition. He will definitely take a place on the top shelf of your music collection, and stand the test of time.