In a career of more than two decades, Sam Phillips has built an intensely loyal fan base that has tracked the evolution of her music from Beatles-esque alternative pop to seductively stripped-down torch songs - with an intriguing side trip into the world of The Gilmore Girls,
where she served as composer. And she continue to enthrall music critics and her fellow musicians. In fact, one of the most highly
praised tracks on the new Robert Plant / Allison Krauss collaboration, Raising Sand, Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us, was written by
Phillips and appears on Don't Do Anything in its original form. That song illustrates the power of Phillips spare yet haunting approach.
An evocation of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the legendary performer who bridged gospel and rock & roll, the track sports gypsy rhythms and
has a beautifully broken-in feel, as if someone had spun it countless times on vinyl before tranferring the song to CD. With lyrics that
alternate between confessional and dream-like, Phillips unfolds a multi-layered story about love and loss in which Tharpe serves as a
kind of musical and spiritual guardian angel. With deft, powerful strokes, The Los Angeles Times has said, in a review of Phillips 2004
A Boot and a Shoe, the singer-songwriter chisels emotions, impressions, yearnings and regrets.
This is the first album that Phillips, who plays both electric and acoustic guitars as well as piano, has produced on her own. Don't Do
Anything has a more pronounced rock feel than her two previous Nonesuch discs, especially on tracks like My Career in Chemistry,
Under the Night and the title song. She has assembled an enviable coterie of smart Los Angeles musicians, including the Section Quartet, a string ensemble renowned for its interpretations of the work of rock artists like Radiohead and David Bowie. She's also joing by drummer
Jay Bellerose (Aimee Mann, Joe Henry, Rickie Lee Jones); bassist Paul Bryan (Martha Wainwright. Norah Jones); and keyboardist
Patrick Warren (Michael Penn, Bruce Springsteen). Minimalism is used for maximum effect: on Another Song, which sounds as if it were
tuned in via some vintage radio, Phillips simply accompanies herself on piano; on Can t Come Down, it s just Phillips on guitars and
Bellerose on drums; Shake It Down relies on a big bass drum and clanking percussion, with a banjo slipping in and out to underscore
the rhythm. On Signal and Flowers Up, the string players provide understated, movie-score-style atmosphere.
As a vocalist, Phillips remains coolly matter-of-fact even with the most confessional of lyrics. She s often drawn inspiration from Los Angeles,
its topography and history, especially on her 2001 Nonesuch debut, Fan Dance. This time she delves into the story of Depression-era
preacher Aimee Semple McPherson, whose evangelist empire was brought down by a mysterious disappearance and romantic scandal.
She s also been creating visual collages from vintage magazine advertisements, accessible on her website that have become the springboard for songs like Flowers Up. They're the perfect complement to Phillips iconoclastic musical aesthetic: while everyone else is posting videos on youtube, she offers these striking, enigmatic artworks, confident that viewers, like her listeners, can discern the artistry and emotion within these pasted-together images. She treats her audience like the grownups they are, making adult contemporary music - both uncompromising and alluring - for contemporary adults.