Grant-Lee Phillips’ “The Narrows” Skillfully Mines Americana Turf

Grant-Lee Phillips
The Narrows
Yep Roc

Yep Roc Records

Criminally underappreciated, Grant-Lee Phillips is one of the more versatile singers around. As frontman of the band Grant Lee Buffalo in the ’90s, he could conjure a T. Rex glam-rock vibe without breaking a sweat. Today, on The Narrows, Phillips skillfully mines Americana turf, mixing muscular country rockers and sparse folk that echoes Woody Guthrie. While his weary, weathered intensity can evoke Bruce Springsteen’s acoustic works, there’s none of the Boss’ self-conscious striving for mythic significance. Thoughtful, precisely detailed stories of struggle and occasional triumph such as “Yellow Weeds” and “Taking on Weight in Hot Springs” linger in the mind like a great short story. The Narrows should have a long shelf life.