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ohmy.gif...and I won't even care. That's how good the new Sam Phillips album, A Boot and a Shoe, is.

I hate to say it a week after an album comes out, but it's a masterpiece! Seriously, the best thing I've heard this side of 2000.

Am I right, kids?
I haven't gotten the new one yet, but I fully intend to very soon and then I'll chime in.
Is it better than Fan Dance? If you say 'yes' I will run out and buy it tomorrow...
I couldn't agree more. It's brilliant.

I am sad to hear, though, that she and T Bone have split up. At least for now.

The new album has made me pull out all the old ones too... plus all my boots!!

I love Sam Phillips!!! She *might* come to Calvin this year and I will be there with boots and bells on! Can't wait to get a listen to the new album!
Pictures steal our memory
Turns our mind to salt
History was written
to say it wasn't our fault
sens us all you love and kisses
come and join the dream that never ends
God will grant us all, our wishes
Martinis and Bikinis to our freinds.
Thanks for the tip on the new album...I love Sam!

Hmmm...I wonder if T Bone got to big for his britches after winning a Grammy and all that jazz? sad.gif
QUOTE(matt_nightingale @ May 5 2004, 01:50 AM)
I am sad to hear, though, that she and T Bone have split up. At least for now.

yikes. where did you hear that, Matt? That's a shame. T-Bone seems like one of those crazy geniuses that might be real hard to live with . . .
anyway, I just read an article about "A Boot and a Shoe" in which Sam described the album as "Fan Dance's evil twin," so now I'm even more intrigued.
Thanks for letting us know. It's been a while since I've pulled out her albums. I'll have to check this one out.

QUOTE(frannyglass @ May 6 2004, 12:53 PM)
yikes.  where did you hear that, Matt?

I'd like to think it's just a rumor, but here's where I'm getting my thoughts:

1) On the Sam Phillips message board/discussion group at MSN, someone posted the following, after much speculation about Sam & T Bone's marital status:

"Finally, I couldn't hold out any longer. I had to ask. It may have been rude, but she was so personable it just felt right. Here is exactly how the conversation went:

Me: So, can I ask the question? (she smiled and nodded). Are you and T-Bone split up?

Sam: (she delayed for a second and then smiled) We are for now.

Me: For now? I guess that means you arent accepting applications for marriage proposals? (Sam bent over laughing)

Sam: Well, we did file, but Im not sure where it is going from here.

She mentioned how she couldnt imagine them not staying friends and co-workers. She also said that he is in the studio creating his own CD finally and that if I didnt have his self titled CD/album I should go find it because it is amazing. We talked a bit about divorce and such and then wished each other well. And the evening was over. I know, I cant believe I asked her. And I cant believe I sort of proposed too. ? But it was so much fun getting her to laugh that hard."

And then there is the album itself, which is a devastating look at the demise of love and marriage... Here's what Jeffrey Overstreet had to say about it. This is a great review, but it's LOOONG... Read on if you're a fan and interested. He's a great writer/reviewer. You should check out the Arts & Faith Community at

**********OVERSTREET REVIEW**********

"A Boot and a Shoe" has broken my heart. I have listened to it once and cannot bring myself to listen to it again... not for a while.

The very last words sung on the album... not the last words on the lyric sheet, but the last words sung... sum up the album as a whole. You'll have to arrive there on your own; I won't say what it is here.

I sat and wept as the album came to a close. Sam's music affects me deeply every time I hear it... Something about her voice and writing gets to me more than anyone I've ever listened to... and consistently, for almost twenty years.

I had heard this was a more "playful" album. And I suppose in some ways that's true... Where Fan Dance was an album heavy with acoustic guitar, this album is her most percussive endeavor. The drums are quirky, unpredictable, and dominant.

But this is NOT 'part two of 'Fan Dance'' as I had heard. It is a focused, subtle, piercing expression of grief and loss at the distintegration of a relationship due to the forces of human desire and change. It is, in essence, about the collapse of a marriage. It has taken me back almost ten years to the most painful hours of my own life in a way that only poetry can, and yet it affirms things in the midst of that anguish with such eloquence and beauty and honesty that I realize I still have much to learn.

I am not going to spend time speculating about Sam herself, as her personal life is her own business. She'll have plenty of speculating journalists to contend with. But I cannot help but deal with what the songs reveal about The Singer... whether that is a character entirely concocted by Sam or if it is all about Sam herself (and how could there not be some overlap?)

The Singer again and again addresses dealing with the loss... the departure of... the one she loves. This "other" has been drawn to someone else, through desire, and the implication is that this is not the first time it has happened. She addresses him about the origins of desire, and how "girls [go] looking for themselves in your eyes." (The Singer seems to be speaking from experience, thinking back on her young and naive and vulnerable time, wryly confessing about the time when was as she was swept away by her famous Muse. Again, I have to fight not to get specific in my speculation about what events these lines are referring to.) But while the lyrics are as honest as acid, as direct as surgery, they are also humble, wise beyond years. She's teetering on the edge between a chasm of despair and the wings that might carry her off "the edge of the world" (as she called it in her last album.) For me, the most frightening moment of the album is when she tells her partner and muse "When I go this time I don't think I'm coming back." There's a lot of ambiguity in just how far she's going to go when she leaves.

I cannot help but get personal when I think back on her career.

For the first time since The Turning, Sam is singing a whole album from a place of brokenness and need. When she released The Turning, she was stripping off the artifice of her Christian-pop career and revealing raw and aching spiritual need. Down, she hit the dirt and called out in a voice as raw as the most desperate psalms. T-Bone Burnett swept her up with all of his charm and talent and prowess, grace granting this honest and misunderstood Christian artist a chance to speak the truth on a much larger stage. At this time, I was waking up to the fakery of Christian music, the limitations, the inability to grapple with real pain, real doubt, real honesty. So as Leslie Phillips "turned" away from singing packaged songs to the choir and entered a phase of more personal and powerful writing, no matter who became uncomfortable, I was going right along, following her lead. (And the lead, of course, of U2, whose Joshua Tree almost seemed to be in dialogue with The Turning in its poetry about breaking away to where the streets have no name.)

When she returned as Sam Phillips with The Indescribable Wow, it was liberation, it was the freedom and exhilaration of singing about human things, human relationships, not the prescribed preach-and-praise of Christian music. She was free and it was a joy. At the same time, thanks to her music and others I had recently discovered, I was beginning to affirm that all subjects are sacred, all beauty is God's, all truth open for discussion.

Cruel Inventions showed her discovering a new confidence, and with that came the release of anger. She was finally ready to be done with "lying" and to speak her mind frankly, even a bit arrogantly. (Others here have pointed out a sense of cynicism and harshness, and I think that's true, but I think it also makes total sense considering her story to that date.) During this time I too was beginning to vent my long repressed anger and frustration about many things: about the walls behind which my church upbringing had kept me, where they had thrown fuel on the fires they had lit in my head and heart, fires of judgmentalism, legalism, self-righteousness, pharasaical Christianity. Now I realized what a monster I had been, and I began rebelling against Christian isolationism, Christian prejudice, Christian separatism.

Martinis and Bikinis was the butterfly emerging from the cocoon. She was unveiled in all her Beatles-esque splendor, a wildly imaginative and professional work of rock and roll, at once her boldest musical adventure and the most eloquent syntheses of what Sam Phillips has to say. It also hinted at the mysticism of the music of her future. I was enthralled. It was all the sonic brilliance of the Beatles without compromising an honesty and commitment to the truth of Spirit that moves in mysterious ways.

Omnipop was strange, twisted, experimental, subversive, and mysterious, like Martinis and Bikinis with a twist of David Lynch. She was moving on already, refusing to simply be the carrier of the Beatles torch, refusing to use her newfound fame to turn out hit singles. The abstract, Rilke-esque "Your Hands" showed that she was still interested in developing as a poet of spiritual longing and the eroticism of dialogue with the Divine. Her references to Thomas Merton paralleled my own immersion in Merton's writing. The mystery of Christ was the center of the world now, and the trappings of confining, over-defining dogma were a memory.

Fan Dance was Sam's move to the monastery of quiet poetry, a spooky minimalist affair about finding her identity in her departure from logic, her departure from dogma, her constant pursuit of the elusive truth, the God who will not be boxed in. "I've tried, I can't find refuge in the angle / I walk the mystery of the curve..." There was an increasing emphasis on the mystery of invisible reality, of the love growing underneath the harsh and angular surfaces of the visible.

But now we've come to the next Turning. The Singer, the character Sam presents to the world, this spiritual searcher has suddenly suffered a traumatic loss. The nature of that loss is private and unexplained, but there are troubling hints... An image inside the front cover of a hand coming out of an ugly darkness holding a bright green apple. This line: "I took your ring that never comes off and put it on / Sorry to lose you, sorry to keep you after you were gone." "My life fell through a hole in my pocket..." Change, desire, unfaithfulness, divorce, whatever you want to call it... she's suddenly alone again, at the edge of the world looking up.

Her brokenness is still a "breaking into faith," a theme that has run through all of her work as both Sam and Leslie. But she also knows God's tendency to bring help "one day late"... after we have lost all that we were clinging to. Resurrection comes not to save us from death, but to raise us out of death. I sincerely hope that we will hear more from Sam as God carries her into the great unknown of the future, but right now, she's singing as if she doesn't want anybody to hear her... quietly mourning.

The story of a whole relationship is here... from the time when a man came and opened up a new world of possibility, growth, and expression ("Open the World") to the bitter end. "You caught me wanting and the shame in my eyes was so inductive..." she sings, "that it magnetized you pulling down my need." Is this a reflection on what drew the Singer and Her Muse together in the first place? This leads to the days when they have nothing left to share: "Making both sides of the conversation / Sometimes, I don't know what to do / Don't start talking inside my head / If you're a dead man then stick to being dead..." "We can't fix what's broken so let's leave it here and walk on..."

And yet, the Singer and the Muse know they need each other in some capacity. They cannot separate entirely. They're still working together.

Listen to the surrender, sadness, honesty, and then the barb at the end of this verse:

We can't fix what's broken, so let's leave it here and walk on
I'll be right behind you.
Love changes everything.
I'm not sorry we loved, but I hope I didn't keep you too long.

And then...

We're not experts
We are believers, ministers of silence
Let no man pull us under doubt
I'll always open my hands to you
I'll be right behind you.

In what may indeed be the most beautiful song she's ever sung, "Reflecting Light", Sam illustrates the beauty of brokenness. The opening line "Now that I've worn out, I've worn out the world" is a fantastic line loaded with multiple meanings (the power of that comma!) sung to a sad lilting dance.

Now that I've worn out, I've worn the world
I'm on my knees in fascination
Looking through the night
And the moon's never seen me before
But I'm reflecting light

I rode the pain down, got off and looked up
Looked into your eyes
The loss opened windows all around
My dark heart lit up the skies

Give up the ground under your fet
Hold on to nothing for good
Turn and run at the mean dogs chasing you

Stand alone and misunderstood...

We may not understand, and my tentative speculative endeavors to understand these lyrics may be spectacularly misguided. But the lyrics are so beautiful, spacious, and sung with such sadness and need that they lead me to the place again to which The Turning led me in 1986... to a remembrance of my vulnerability and total dependence upon the mystery of Christ, my rock and my redeemer, when all else is shifting sand ... even those contracts I tend to assume are most binding.
That's so sad to hear. Thanks for letting us know.
well, I bought A Boot and a Shoe this weekend, and it did not disappoint. Great, great album. Awesome. I think I will take the liberty of disagreeing with Sam's description of it as the evil twin of Fan Dance . . . actually I think Fan Dance is the evil twin of this album, if that makes sense. (Heck, it's even in the album packaging--dark vs. light! smile.gif ) Fan Dance has a lot of songs that feel like short stories to me, little fictions, and on this one the songs seem more personal, wide open, and a little more damaging ...
I'm still getting to know it though, might have more thoughts later.
QUOTE(matt_nightingale @ May 6 2004, 03:31 PM)
Me: So, can I ask the question? (she smiled and nodded). Are you and T-Bone split up?

Sam: (she delayed for a second and then smiled) We are for now.

Me: For now? I guess that means you arent accepting applications for marriage proposals? (Sam bent over laughing)

sooooooooo sad!
i am glad you made her laugh.

Just for the record, it wasn't ME... I was quoting a guy from the Sam Phillips group on MSN. I'm happily married and not looking to get into polygamy. smile.gif

QUOTE(matt_nightingale @ May 13 2004, 11:54 AM)
Just for the record, it wasn't ME... I was quoting a guy from the Sam Phillips group on MSN. I'm happily married and not looking to get into polygamy. smile.gif


that's right! i forgot! thanks Matt.

wow! i am especially an idiot today!

You're not an idiot! I was misleading in my original post... GRACE to you! smile.gif
The current issue of No Depression has a great article on Sam and her new recording: Check It Out.

There was also a brief interview with Sam on yesterday's All Things Considered (NPR).

"Singer Sam Phillips began her music career as a Christian singer. She took her faith with her and began to make pop music that are modern torch songs, songs of love and pain. The music on her latest CD, A Boot and A Shoe, is stark, with production from T Bone Burnett. NPR's Melissa Block talks with Phillips about the characters and many angles the writer uses to compose music that is more impressionistic than storytelling."

You can currently listen to it here (scroll down to the bottom of the page): Listen Here.


thanks matt.

what player do i need for these files? hmmmm
Apparently they just played 'Reflecting Light' on the latest episode of Gilmore Girls. And '...Boot...' is getting more airplay already than Fan Dance ever did, even if it's only on AAA radio. Be sure to request it like crazy, kids.
Yeah!! Snagged a free copy of the in store play for boot and a shoe and LOVE it!! Hooray! It flows better and seems more...consistent than Fan dance and I just can't stop listening.
Also, Ruler of SubD, you have got to scrap that Mononoke-Llama thing you have as an avatar. It is giving me the serious wiggins. smile.gif
Yeah!!! Concert at Calvin!!! I am sooooo there!
QUOTE(bunnygirl @ Aug 6 2004, 07:55 PM)
Also, Ruler of SubD, you have got to scrap that Mononoke-Llama thing you have as an avatar. It is giving me the serious wiggins. smile.gif

It looks kinda dirty, doesn't it? We'll see what I can find.
Ooh, forgot. With any luck, I'll get to see Sam live in St. Louis this September. I'm bakin' cookies!! (See the Sam Phillips MSN Group)
Wonder why she never comes to Portland.
Ng. Forget what I just said about seeing Sam live. Turns out she's opening for David Byrne, and he's taking an orchestra with him on tour, both of which are good good things, except it means they're playing at playhouses and the tickets run for about $75. Looks like it's just Ryan Adams and Wilco this fall for me.
jame$ I just got this today (mostly b/c of this thread)...and holy friggin' crap it's good.

I was pretty unacquainted with Sam, but omigosh is this stuff catchy. I may just develop another useless crush smile.gif
Sam is going to be at Calvin if you are in the area. She is also newly single. Put the two together...
My best friend graduated from Calvin, and he occassionally goes back to Grand Rapids to see maybe... wink.gif
QUOTE(jame$ @ Aug 21 2004, 06:09 PM)
I may just develop another useless crush smile.gif

This is what I'm saying! Sam is the sexiest woman in music today. All my friends think it's funny I have a huge crush on somebody twice (+) my age, but I don't care! Have you heard her speaking voice? ...mmmm...
Lovely, lovely album. Great to drink to, drive to, do homework to. Definitely one of my favorites this year.
Her KCRW live studio appearance was mentioned here, right?

If not, here you go:
Apparently they just played 'Reflecting Light' on the latest episode of Gilmore Girls.

My wife and I were watching the first season of Gilmore Girls (well, I was half-watching) when I stumbled on this thread (love that "View New Posts" button in the upper right hand corner!).

As I was reading about the Sam and T-Bone split, in the background I heard the la-la-las of Sam singing during a scene were Rory is crying over breaking up with her first crush. It made the moment a little sadder on both sides of the world, but saddest here in the real world.
QUOTE(ike @ Aug 28 2004, 08:18 PM)
Her KCRW live studio appearance was mentioned here, right?

If not, here you go:

Ooh, that's a great performance. I have it burned to CD (complete with artwork done by someone on the Sam Phillips list), and it actually serves as a nice companion album to A Boot and a Shoe. The two have become one in my music catalog. Maybe I should vine it.
New October Tour dates added (without David Byrne)

10/8/04 Austin, TX The Cactus Club
10/9/04 Austin, TX The Cactus Club
10/10/04 Dallas, TX Sons of Hermann Hall
10/11/04 Memphis, TN Automatic Slims
10/12/04 Atlanta, GA Red Light Café
10/13/04 Nashville, TN Belacourte Theater with String Section
10/14/04 Columbus, OH Little Brothers with String Section
10/15/04 Chicago, IL Old Town School Of Folk Music with String Section
10/16/04 Grand Rapids, MI Calvin College Fine Arts Center with String Section
10/17/04 Toronto, Canada Lulu's with String Section
10/18/04 Philadelphia, PA World Café Live with String Section
10/19/04 New York, NY Zankel Hall with String Section
10/20/04 Boston, MA Paradise Rock Club with String Section
10/21/04 Alexandria, VA Iota with String Section
does "with String Section" mean she's gonna have violins and such behind her? or is that the name of the opening band?
The Section is the name of the String Quartet that backs her on the album. I was under the impression she wouldn't be touring with them, but it looks like they'll be with her on these dates. That's awesome! I don't remember her touring this much after Fan Dance. Too bad she's not coming anywhere near mid-Missouri. Curse my location!
If you are debating in your head whether or not to see Sam, go see her!!!! Especially if you've never seen her live before.

The KCRW video stream does not do justice to her beauty, charisma, charm, and tortured sense of humor.

She also played two new songs with electric guitar at hand....which would seem like a great progression into her next album.

My ultimate dream concert would be for Sam, Gillian Welch, and Carla Azar to tour together. (The three all played on Fan Dance)

An official Sam site - if you did not know already.
Speaking of Carla Azar, she has a new band called Autolux. I've read some kind of good things and was mildly interested in getting their album. Can't remember what it's called.
GAck!!!! She is nearby this weekend and I can't go!!! Pffftt!!! Why? Why?
I know the feeling. I missed her in St. Louis a month ago. But I went to Wilco as consolation. Which is a really nice consolation. So maybe I don't know how you feel...
if anyone here caught the Sam Phillips show at Calvin this past weekend, I'd appreciate a blow-by-blow review. thanks.
(I had to pass on the 3-hour drive out there due to illness)
Debut release of Autolux - Future Perfect is getting released next Tuesday, Oct 26th.
I purchased their demo CD a year ago and have been looking forward to their studio release.
That's good to know. Carla did some great work with Joseph Arthur, too.
who is Autolux? and what do they have to do with Sam Phillips?
Autolux is Carla Azar's band.
Carla is a girl who plays drums for Sam.
Their debut, Future Perfect, which releases on Tuesday Oct 26 is produced by T-bone Burnett on his new record label DMZ.

Musically compared to Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead...but I would still take a listen even if you don't really care for those bands solely for the fact that they are endorsed by T-bone and Sam.
Watch Carla Azar going berzerk on the drums
Just bought Autolux's album, Future Perfect. I've only given it one listen, and I can't decide if I'll like it or not. I probably will. Carla is an amazing drummer. She also sings on one track.

Whether I like it or not, I recommend this. Technically they're amazing. I just can't decide if it's my schtick or not. I bet it's just a grower.
Rec'd this link from Sam's mailing list:

(It's so fantastic to see her getting more exposure.)
oooh. Just had to report that I saw Sam in concert last night at the Silverlake Lounge ... brilliant. This was my first show of hers, and I'll certainly be forking over whatever money necessary to see her again. Brilliant. Did I say that? Killer band, too. Only the violinist from The Section there plus keyboards and drummer (coolest drum 'set' I've ever seen), and they were so great. Loved the ultra low-tech track she used for 'Incinerator' (tiny tape player held up to the microphone). smile.gif Loved also that she played electric guitar for a few songs ... like 'Zero Zero Zero,' yay!

From the stuff she said and a new song she played it seems she's still pretty torn up about the divorce. Sad.

But damn, what a good show. So good that I think it'll tide me over for the two months before OtR gets out here smile.gif
She didn't happen to mention anything about a new album, did she? She was implying recently that she was going to try and do an album a year for awhile. She even had considered an a capella album before Bjork stole her idea. biggrin.gif
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