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Glen Phillips
Secrets Of The New Explorers
Umami Music
www.glenphillips.com


The "inbetweener" EP is a rare and wonderful thing in the hands of a skilled craftsman. It's a true chance to try some new things, both songwriting wise and sonically, a good time to step out on a limb and do something truly artistic - and when self-released, without the constraints placed on the artist by a record label or any contractual constraint, it can be even better. Glen Phillips takes the chance to do some things that have obviously been brewing inside of his soul for a few years on his newest release, Secrets Of The New Explorers. Phillips eschews almost all hints of his previous works, both as a member of Toad The Wet Sprocket and his solo works up to this point that have been a bit more straight-forward pop affairs. The songs on Secrets… stay fairly low-key, both in tone and tempo, never straying much from their rather meditative sound, with one or two moments of exception. "They'll Find Me" is immediately likeable and eerily reminiscent of the more relaxed works of Paul Simon. The song has an effortless feel about it that is transcendent and beautiful, with a groove that floats lithely along. "Space Elevator" is a bluesy number that sounds uncannily like a 77's song from the early '90s mixed with the soulful funk of Lenny Kravitz's second record. It is a great song, having the only pronounced drums on the EP, and grooves right along to its well-produced reverby vocals and reversed accents… funky! Glen stretches sonically again on "The Spirit Of Shackleton", underscoring his soft vocals and keyboard pads with a nice trashy drum loop that moves into trip-hop territory. Glen gives a nod to the songs of Paul Simon in his lyric for "Shackleton" as well, as he uses the track to explore some hidden references to Bowie's "Major Tom." Secrets… is teeming with references to a destroyed Earth where people are seeking a new place to live, a new planet to destroy, but all in the hope of renewal and restarting. It is a brilliant piece of music, only reaching about 20 minutes total playing time, that covers a lot of musical ground and raises many questions relevant to today's world… if you'll take a moment to stop and listen. The songs are beautiful, and the closing track "A Dream" is sparse loveliness at its finest, reminding the listener once more why they came to fall in love with the music of Glen Phillips in the first place.

-Embo Blake

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