Guest / Limited Access /

When Sam Phillips last toured, she sang a memorable refrain about heartbreak: "When you're down / You find out what's down there."

Phillips's new album, Don't Do Anything (4 stars) (Nonesuch), is like a travelogue of what she found down there. Concocting an intimate chemistry of guitars, violins, and rowdy percussion, she draws poetry from betrayal, regrets, and life in Hollywood, where she's witnessed so many wrecked dreams. But throughout these passionate songs, she points listeners toward hope—a river of love that's flowing "under the night."

The title track is a half-whispered declaration of love that persists in times of despair. "It's a pretty radical statement," Phillips tells CT. "Everything is so performance oriented in our society that it's easy to lose sight of grace and love." The album concludes with "Watching Out of This World," a soaring anthem that affirms "the splendor / the holiness of life / that reveals itself."

But the project's crowning glory is "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," a tribute to gospel legend Rosetta Tharpe. Allison Krauss and Robert Plant covered it with quiet grace on their excellent collaboration, Raising Sand, but Phillips's performance captures Tharpe's zeal.

Beginning as Christian rocker Leslie Phillips in the 1980s, Sam rose from the CCM industry to critical acclaim, roles in feature films, and guitar strumming for television's Gilmore Girls.

Don't Do Anything marks a new chapter in Phillips's career. It's her first project since her 2004 divorce from T-Bone Burnett, who had produced all of her albums till now. Here, Phillips adds production duties to singing and playing piano and guitar—and she does a fine job at the controls.

Phillips can be proud of her production. It's a ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
From Issue:
Browse All Music Reviews By:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only The Human Condition
Quotations to stir heart and mind.
Current IssueAjith Fernando: How Church Leaders Can Serve God's Family Without Neglecting Their Own
Subscriber Access Only Ajith Fernando: How Church Leaders Can Serve God's Family Without Neglecting Their Own
'It's a huge balancing act, and I don't think anyone in the world is perfectly balanced!'
Current IssueNGO No-Go: More Countries Make Christian Charity Harder to Give and Receive
Subscriber Access Only NGO No-Go: More Countries Make Christian Charity Harder to Give and Receive
China's restrictions on foreign NGOs are the latest in a concerning trend.
TrendingWho’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
Who’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
The Republican candidate finally names his campaign’s evangelical connections.
Editor's PickGo Ahead, Evangelicals: Use the P-Word
Go Ahead, Evangelicals: Use the P-Word
Only some believers are ordained. But all are priests.
Christianity Today
Love Flowing Under the Night
hide thisJuly July

In the Magazine

July 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.