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Grant-Lee Phillips has a voice glorious and strong enough that he could sing nearly anything and his loyal fan base would be happy to hear it. But after moving from California to Tennessee in 2013, Phillips sounds like a happier and invigorated man on 2016's The Narrows, which boasts a lively and engaging spark. On the surface, The Narrows doesn't feel all that much peppier than most of Phillips' solo catalog, but the pace of this music is less lazy than contemplative. Backed by Jerry Roe on drums and Lex Price on bass, most of these tunes settle into an easy but determined groove, but when Phillips turns up the gas on "Loaded Gun" and "Tennessee Rain," the effect is powerful and liberating. There's a subtle passion in Phillips' performances here that makes all the difference, a pale fire that brings these tunes to life. Though he's moved south, Phillips writes a lot about his memories of life in the West on The Narrows. He calls up evocative images of family, childhood, and the extended landscapes of California, and the mood is more artful than nostalgic, finding beauty in both good and harrowing experiences. Perhaps Phillips had to leave California behind to see it clearly, but The Narrows is a striking chronicle of life in the Golden State. As a piece of record making, The Narrows is simple but deeply satisfying, as good as anything Phillips has made since going solo. Hearing him sing is always a richly enjoyable experience, but The Narrows delivers as both form and content. It's recommended to anyone who has ever found pleasure in his work

The concentrated nexus of romance, recollection, historic struggles and tragedies,and peerless craftsmanship – coupled with the hopes, fears, and isolation that accompany transition – formed the backdrop of The Narrows, Phillips’ latest dispatch on Yep Roc Records.

Bathed in a woody, warmly reverberating sonic signature, the album’s thirteen songs are marked by longing and a resolute sense of purpose: As though hurling yourself fullforce into the unknown is as sensible as any other more commonly prescribed course. After all, what feels unknown may be residing just below the surface – should you be willing to dig for it and be open to discovery.

“This set of songs,” Phillips observes, “seem to pivot between the personal and historical – like a lens, focusing in and out. The Creek and the Cherokee, of which I’m descendent, called this land home before the removal. I’m captivated by the stories and the energy here.” The Narrows balances that history with Phillips’ own severance from his birthplace, his continued journey into marriage and fatherhood, and the passing of his own father. “Moccasin Creek,” delivered by the band with a daring sense of space and a vivid, clear-eyed vocal from Phillips, mines those emotional and geographical intersections. “I envisioned myself one day venturing into the Arkansas land where my father’s side of the family sprang forth,” Phillips explains. “There’s a part of the river down by the old family home known as the Narrows – the unfriendly part where you fight against the current and try to not to be pulled under. I saw in this a metaphor…”


Track Listing:

1. Tennessee Rain
2. Smoke And Sparks
3. Moccasin Creek
4. Cry Cry
5. Holy Irons
6. Yellow Weeds
7. Loaded Gun
8. Rolling Pin
9. Taking On Weight In Hot Springs
10. Just Another River Town
11. No Mercy In July
12. San Andreas Fault
13. Find My Way


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