“I’m drawing on the urgency of the moment,” reflects Grant-Lee Phillips. “The things that eat away in the late hours…”
That urgency inspired the headlong rush of Widdershins – available February 23 via Yep Roc – in which Grant-Lee Phillips invests the insight, nuance, and wit that has distinguished his songcraft over the past three decades in a riveting dissection of today’s fraught social landscape. Beneath the moment’s tumultuous veneer, Phillips uncovers resonances spanning centuries – patterns echoing from the present day to the distant past. Its twelve tracks were cut largely live in the studio with the sharp trio of Phillips (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Jerry Roe (drums), and Lex Price (bass) serving as messengers. Says Phillips, “This moment is explosive, volatile, and heightened. It’s important to me that the music reflect that...”
By turns sardonic, provocative, and illuminating, Widdershins (produced by Phillips and mixed by Tucker Martine) delivers its poetic truths through Phillips’s peerless melodic sensibilities, carefully balancing intensity and vulnerability. A now seasoned songwriter and performer, with more than two decades' experience first as frontman of the acclaimed Grant Lee Buffalo then as an accomplished solo artist, Phillips awakens comfort and hope by shining light into darker corners. “I hope to express my faith in people, my faith in the good ideas we’re capable of, and that regardless of what opposition we face, the fact that we can surmount these things,” he concludes. “We can stare them down, laugh at them, belittle them, and drive the darkness back into a hole.”
“Like a baseball player who quietly hits 30 home runs every year or a golfer who regularly finishes in the Top Ten, Josh Rouse's continued streak of excellence is easy to ignore and maybe even downplay a little” -- Tim Sendra, Allmusic.com
You don’t have to work hard to enjoy Rouse’s music. His songs present themselves to you with an open heart, an innate intelligence and an absolute lack of pretension. They are clear-eyed, empathetic and penetrating. Without pandering, they seek to satisfy both your ear and your understanding. The verses draw you in with telling detail, both musical and thematic, and the choruses lift and deliver. They resolve without seeming overly tidy or pat.