Cruel Inventions

Cruel Inventions

A heartfelt songwriter from California with strong psychedelic pop tendencies in the tradition of fellow travelers R.E.M. and Natalie Merchant, Sam Phillips emerged in 1991 with Cruel Inventions, her third album of secular pop after a previous career as Christian singer Leslie Phillips. With producer-husband T-Bone Burnett providing an ambient, experimental hand (and inviting Elvis Costello, Van Dyke Parks and Marc Ribot to guest), Cruel Inventions succeeds as both singer-songwriting and as a sonic powerhouse. “Raised on Promises” exemplifies the delicate balance, adding a beautiful stereo-wash of guitars atop Phillips’ sweet vocal delivery without tipping into melodrama. The sprite horns of “Hole In Time,” the twisted simmer that explodes into the irresistible chorus of “Lying,” the early ‘90s groove of the title track, and the classic adult-contemporary pop of ‘Where the Colors Don’t Go” are the results of producer and artist finding new ways to express old sentiments without succumbing to novelty or intrusive invention.

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