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Grant Lee Phillips Mobilize Review

Album. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

If you persist you'll find that songs like 'Love's A Mystery' linger in the memory and...

Dan Tallis 2002

Mobilizeis Grant Lee's first major release, in that his debut, Ladies Love Oracle, was only available via his website. You'll recognise him from his previous incarnation, Grant Lee Buffalo, and his familiar rasping vocals stand out immediately.

The first track, "See America" sets the scene for Mobilize with its melancholic chorus; Phillips sings about the sadness of leaving and of homesickness. With each song on the album the journey continues and the rather dull, sombre atmosphere persists.

This journey can be compared to the distance Phillips seems to travel from the Grant Lee Buffalo sound as the album progresses. The passionate, epic soundscapes that made Grant Lee Buffalo famous are replaced by simple, intimate songs and the acoustic guitars are taken over by electronic textures and drum machines

Phillips seems to have chosen the understated approach on this album. He doesn't push his vocal range in pitch or dynamic: barely rising above a sleepy whisper until track 5, "We All Get a Taste". Here and the next track, "Spring Released", the vocals get a full run out and at last there seems to be some of the joys of life to celebrate. "My little girlfriends hanging light, I feel the blood rush, pumpin, haulin'."

The drum machines are out on "Like a Lover" where the stripped down drum beat and softly spoken words bring U2's "Numb" to mind. Phillips successfully incorporates these modern electronic sounds alongside traditional instruments and in combination with his resonate vocals.

The first few listens to Mobilize can leave you cold but if you persist you'll find that songs like "Love's A Mystery" linger in the memory and you'll find yourself humming along to Phillips passionate, well crafted lyrics: "Love's a mystery to unwind, she holds a key to every crime".

Mobilize has both great moments and mediocre, but with this release Phillips can justify his position amongst contemporary singer-songwriters such as Mark Eitzel, Lloyd Cole, Matthew Sweet and Neil Finn, and the influence of the Buckleys certainly leaves its mark.

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