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Grant-Lee Phillips
LADIESí LOVE ORACLE
(ZOň/ROUNDER)

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Of the small coterie of singer-songwriters loosely affiliated with prolific LA-based producer/session guy Jon Brion ó an impressive group including Rufus Wainwright, Aimee Mann, Elliott Smith, and the Eelsí Mark Everett ó perhaps the least celebrated has been former Grant Lee Buffalo frontman Grant-Lee Phillips. Zoëís new expanded reissue of 2000ís self-released Ladiesí Love Oracle, his first post-Buffalo solo disc, illustrates why that is while suggesting there might be room for re-examination.

Like all of Brionís buddies, Phillips is obsessed with the Beatles, a creative preoccupation that suffuses Oracleís carefully constructed, delicately arranged pop songs (which Phillips recorded entirely by himself in Brionís basement). This isnít a problem, especially on dreamy Lennon-ish ballads like "Youíre a Pony" and "Nothiní Is for Sure." Whatís troubling is that he never goes beyond this apparent homage to fold in the distinctive artistry that made GLBís pastoral psychedelia such an undervalued commodity in mid-í90s alterna-rock. The result is a bland but solid piece of work from a songwriter whoís capable of more.

BY MIKAEL WOOD

Issue Date: September 12 - 19, 2002
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