Fan Dance

Fan Dance

Past albums found southern California songstress Sam Phillips indulging in adventurous productions to fully flesh out her pop melodies. However, with 2001’s Fan Dance, her first album after a five year hiatus, she chose to strip the sound to its barest essentials. The electro-pop and psychedelic guitars are replaced with acoustic guitar and the sense that everything is happening in a small, quiet room at the far end of the house. The songs actually were cut live with few overdubs. Tom Waits’ sideman Marc Ribot contributes his counterpoint and star Gillian Welch harmonizes alongside for two of the album’s strongest tunes, “Five Colors” and “Love is Everywhere I Go.” The emphasis throughout is on economy. Phillips wastes no words and the twelve compositions roll briskly past at just over half an hour. Still, Phillips is hardly rustic. “Edge of the World” has a lushness beyond its simple beginnings, “Soul Eclipse” uses a distorted grime to get its point across, and the wordless incantation of “Is That Your Zebra?” offers unconventional transcendence.

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