The advent of the Internet has proven to be a blessing for independent artists, providing vastly more controllable environments in which art far less subordinates itself to corporate schemes and industro-political whim. For a year and a half, from Aug. 2009 - Feb. 2011, Sam Phillips issued a subscriber-based melange of her musical, visual, and written works in what was called the Long Play. Phillips had foreseen that it was now, in her own words, "[b]efore the music business locks down a standardized system of making and distributing records digitally or otherwise" in the brave new cyberworld, that she had the "perfect time to do something intensely personal and experimental"; that is, she began to dance to her own muse rather than the account ledger's. The sonic version of that is what Solid State is all about…with the added benefit of remastering. Of course, even if you were a founding member of the Long Play scenario, Sam took the unique opportunity to keep tweaking everything right up to the point of permanent release, and thus one may well find significantly different versions herein.
Phillips has a soft and vulnerable but not weak-hearted voice. She may be dazed by "this fearful world" but is wending her way through it, if not this way then that, and if not that, then she'll create one. At times sounding like a laconic Joni Mitchell, a cowgirl who happened across a bottle of Impatient Pills (Broken Circle), or a poetess at a Goth poetry slam, she at times brings to mind Rasputina, Janis Ian with a twang sitting inside a chamber ensemble, and occasionally a female Elvis Costello in pensivity (Not So Fast). Guitars, violins, cellos and other instruments waft in and out of the selections but the feel is always mellifluous and often drear, blues with an almost funereal bent despite the frequently non-morbid lyrics. And if a desire for more may cross your mind after hearing Solid State, fret not, for Phillips maintains the Play program, and one may still subscribe, to the very happy effect of receiving 43 tracks in toto.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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