Hers are torch songs but on slow-burn, which may explain why some 16 years after ditching the Christian bookstore circuit for the pop-rock bins, Sam Phillips still doesn't ship in bulk. This longtime fan, who discovered her around the time she made The Indescribable Wow (which still defies description), occasionally bristles at the new stuff. Recent discs such as 2001's Fan Dance and this year's A Boot and a Shoe aren't as warm as the old discs, which worked up a sweat by exorcising old jingle-jangling Beatles riffs. But the new stuff grows on you--or in you, maybe. It's all about her voice now, accompanied by the occasional stringed instrument from which you can hang yourself late at night; if only fellow Nonesuch labelmates Wilco hadn't taken the title A Ghost Is Born, which better suits Phillips' haunting pop than Jeff Tweedy's feedback groan. All that said, though, can't wait to hear her at rickety old Sons of Hermann Hall; bet you 50 bucks she burns that mother down.
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