Grant-Lee Phillips - Widdershins - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Grant-Lee Phillips - Widdershins

by James Weiskittel Rating:8 Release Date:2018-02-23
Grant-Lee Phillips - Widdershins
Grant-Lee Phillips - Widdershins

After reprising his role as the ‘town troubadour’ in last year’s Gilmore Girls reboot (yep, that’s him with the glasses), Grant-Lee Phillips is set to release his latest solo record, Widdershins.  While most may recognize Phillips as the voice behind the southern-tinged 90’s alt-rock act Grant-Lee Buffalo, and their incredibly infectious single “Mockingbird”, Phillips has enjoyed sustained ‘below the radar’ success as a solo artist in the years following his former band’s seemingly 15-minute success.

Recorded over a four-day period in Nashville, Widdershins (Phillip’s ninth solo record) finds the prolific singer-songwriter mining some new sonic territory this time around.  Opening with a Tom Petty-esque bang, “Walk In Circles” is a welcome dose of ‘amps-to-eleven’ heartland americana while the lushly understated “King of Catastrophes”, and soulfully driving “Something’s Gotta Give” show off Phillip’s ever-growing range of influences.

From the more driving, rocked-out numbers like ”Scared Stiff”, “The Wilderness” and “Great Acceleration” to the record’s more ‘in-the-pocket’ moments (“Totally You Gunslinger”, “History Has Their Number”), Widdershins is a compelling listen from beginning to end.  Now mind you, heart-on-your-sleeve balladeering is hardly a groundbreaking concept, but to give credit where credit is due, Phillips has managed to put a compelling spin on the genre’s template over and over again throughout his career, and Widdershins is no exception.

While Phillips largely avoids the haunting falsetto that once-upon-a-time earned him the honor of Rolling Stone’s ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’, his maturity as both a singer, and a lyricist is continuously on display over the course Widdershins’ twelve songs.  The record’s final track, the fiery “Liberation” underscores this point perfectly, as the singer manages to infuse his vocals with a politically-charged urgency that immediately evokes tones of yesteryear’s folk heroes.

While Phillip’s new album will undoubtedly satisfy his longtime audience, for fans who may have lost track of the singer following Grant Lee Buffalo’s mid-90’s heyday, Widdershins represents a perfect opportunity to get reacquainted with one of alt-rock’s most underappreciated voices.

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