Glen Phillips – Swallowed By The New

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While some artists tend to bristle at the label “singer/songwriter”, Glen Phillips doesn’t worry about labels, or genres for that matter, he just does what he does best– he writes poignant songs and sings them to eager audiences with his trademark warm vocal delivery. The Toad The Wet Sprocket frontman does just that with Swallowed By The New, his newest solo record set for release on October 7th.

Swallowed by the New is a lyrical piece of art exploring the new territory in which he finds himself–composed to process the pain of his divorce, Phillips’ songs encompass  timeless themes of love, grief and hope, conveyed with a warm and soulful accompaniment of instruments, harmonies, and lyrics written with heartfelt authenticity.  The tracks range from the simple–a man and his trusty guitar–to complex musical arrangements such as opening track, “Go.”  “Go”, a lush and anthemic welcome to the  album, is a sad yet beautifully poetic tune.

Any dark folk album needs a song like “Amnesty”–hell, every album needs a tune like “Amnesty”;  “Hope feels a million miles tonight, hope feels a little hard to fine,” Phillips sings in the driving chorus, as he cries for amnesty, the accompanying yearning instrumentation and arrangement lending even deeper emotion.  The haunting feel of “Unwritten” is amplified by delicately ominous instrumentation and melancholy harmonies–a song of  hopelessness, lovelessness, the roads not taken, and all of that which is, well, unwritten.

For an album of songs born of heartbreak and pain, the tone is at times sorrowful, but never depressing; Phillips does an incredible job of acknowledging the pain and paying tribute to the beauty of his past, as he looks forward with hope and optimism–swallowed by the newness brought about by major life changes, yet ready for the newness of the future.

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