Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Texas music hall-of-famer Gretchen Phillips launches new album aided by impressive cast of contributors including members of Shearwater & Team Dresch.

Plans to bring the humor and polemic nationwide in ‘09 are at hand, while lead single “Red State/Blue State” awaits you behind this LINK.

Gretchen Phillips is a living lesbian legend.” – The Advocate

“It’s a rare human who can talk about heteronormativity and Badfinger in one interview. But Gretchen Phillips is no run-of-the-mill lesbian folk singer.” – Girlfriends Magazine

“One of the most warped, wonderful songwriting talents in our age.” – The Austin Chronicle

“The emotional resonance of Phillips’ music is universal, which - in a way - makes it even more radical in its implications.” - Craig Lee, Los Angeles Times

The influential and adventurous musician Gretchen Phillips, announces her first new album in five years, I Was Just Comforting Her. In completing this expansive new work, the Texas Music Hall of Fame inductee was aided by an impressive cast of contributors, including drummer Melissa York (Butchies, VitaPup, Team Dresch), percussionist Thor Harris (Shearwater, Bill Callahan, Angels of Light and The Gretchen Phillips Experience), former bandmate Andy Loomis (Gretchen Phillips Experience) and longtime collaborator Dave Driver. Phillips has engaged in multiple musical genres, from 80s punk band Meat Joy to 90s country/disco/rock/folk/pop band Two Nice Girls and onward into myriad other territories as a solo artist. I Was Just Comforting Her draws upon her vast array of creative genre-bending to make what ironically might be her most pop-oriented album to date.

However, the album still retains the thematic elements that distinguish her work: a call for empathy and connection amid cultural and social alienation. Produced by Rob Halverson and Phillips, it is, as its maker describes, “a big, thick slab of humanism.” This may be the theme of Gretchen’s pioneering career. Though out and proud as a lesbian since her teens, as an artist Gretchen Phillips has always reached beyond her natural constituency to make music for everyone. Her seminal early 90s group Two Nice Girls was as notable for its unabashed joy in lesbianism as for its legions of non-lesbian fans. Phillips’ other bands have been similarly joyful and inclusive. Spanning folk, rock, country, gospel, punk and her own idiosyncratic take on the singer-songwriter form, Gretchen Phillips has blazed a twenty year trail of uncompromising personal artistry and openhearted musical communion.

Phillips’ first release since Togetherness, her 2003 collaboration with Dave Driver, I Was Just Comforting Her stresses that longing for communion in stronger terms than ever. Opening with “Red State/Blue State” (MP3), a roiling electro-pop plea for hope and understanding, the album traverses broad sonic territory but stays rooted in a personal vision that insists on love and kindness in a divided society. The soaring country of “Honey, I Feel So Good,” the coiled rock of “Burning Inside,” and the effervescent pop of “Peola” and “In Case of Rapture” stand along side harder to categorize pieces like “Swimming” and “YOY?” to reveal the complex interior life of a musician at the peak of her artistry.

…continued below…

Artist: Gretchen Phillips
Title: I Was Just Comforting Her
Label: Seasick Sailor Records
Release Date: February 5th, 2009

01. Red State/Blue State (MP3)
02. Burning Inside
03. Honey, I Feel So Good
04. Peola
05. Your Drinking
07. Swimming
08. YOY?
09. In Case of Rapture
10. To the Lady C

Gretchen Phillips Live:
02/18 Los Angeles, CA @ Genghis Cohen
02/19 Felton, CA @ Don Quixote's
02/23 San Francisco, CA @ Cafe du Nord
02/25 Eugene, OR @ Sam Bond's
02/26 Seattle, WA @ SPACE: A Design Build Collective
02/27 Olympia, WA @ ABC House
02/28 Portland, OR @ Mississippi Pizza


“For the last number of years I’ve been making albums more modestly than I did back with Two Nice Girls,” Phillips says. “And then I got hungry for really big production. Not big production for big production’s sake, but to make an album that utilized every instrument and sound that I felt would serve the songs. I decided not to scrimp on my recording budget and not to give myself any time constraints. I wanted to work on it until I was totally satisfied.”

Rob and I had a lot of fun meticulously going thru every song and basically putting down everything we wanted to hear and then we just mixed and mixed for maximum emotional impact,” she elaborates. “Since I gave myself free reign in terms of time, we did just joyfully work on this thing until it was done. And then when it was done we could tell.” Phillips’ artistry has taken on a new dimension in the last two years. In addition to playing concerts, she has written and performed two acclaimed one-woman shows combining stories and songs into musical memoir. The first of these, Don’t Stop Believing, premiered in 2007 at The Off Center as part of the Rude Mechanicals’ prestigious Throws Like a Girl performance series. The latest, Manlove, the saga of Phillips’ struggles and triumphs loving the men in her life, premiered with a sold-out run at The Vortex Theater.

In addition to expanding her performing frontiers, Phillips has applied her artistry to the packaging of the new album. Each and every copy comes in a package hand assembled by the artist herself. Phillips considers I Was Just Comforting Her an epic saga full of individual songs, but meant to be heard in its whole sweeping scope. “It’s my grand concept album, like Spirit’s Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus” she says. “I love a bold statement, so I made one.”

Taking her inclusive message on the road, Phillips intends to tour behind I Was Just Comforting Her for the better part of 2009. Beginning with a west coast swing in February (see dates below), plans also include trips to Canada, the Midwest and the Northeastern United States.

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