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 Recommended Reading
Books on the existence of God.
Current IssueWhen God’s Mercy Sounds Like Bad News
Subscriber Access Only
When God’s Mercy Sounds Like Bad News
The patience of the Lord can be a heavy burden.
Current IssueThe Benedict Option’s Vision for a Christian Village
Subscriber Access Only The Benedict Option’s Vision for a Christian Village
How to conserve and strengthen the American church.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickMy Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
My Missionary Great-Grandfather Led Me to Christ
But only after I went to Japan in search of his life story.
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.