Sam Phillips has been in music for a long time. She began as Leslie Phillips in the Christian music industry in the 80s. Then, in exasperation at not being able to express herself properly she moved to the general market and followed that move with a name change. She became known as “Sam” and produced several pop albums with producer (and husband) T Bone Burnett. Then a couple of years ago she made “Fan Dance” which sent her on a completely different musical direction. “Fan Dance,” released on Nonesuch Records, moved Phillips squarely into quirky folk-pop. The songs were good. Chillingly good, actually.
“A Boot And A Shoe” isn’t a major change from “Fan Dance.” There are subtle differences, but the prevalent sound is folky-pop. Sam accompanied by acoustic guitar with other oddities thrown in to boost the songs along.
The best comparison, and one I did not think up but wretchedly stole for my own sake, is to take “Fan Dance” and mix it with some Tom Waits. Granted, Sam Phillips’ voice sounds nothing like Waits, however, she utilizes a similar rhythmic rattle and clatter (without, perhaps, going to quite the extreme that Waits does).
As with all Nonesuch Records releases, “A Boot And A Shoe” is exquisitely packaged in a slipcase with some artsy photography. If you buy a Nonesuch release, you know it’s not going to be just thrown together. It’s high quality from the package inside to the production of the music.
If you liked “Fan Dance” and want to see a bit of an expansion on that sound, you will enjoy this release. If you wanted to see more growth you may find it hard to listen all the way through “A Boot And A Shoe.” Once you give it some time it will start to grow on you the way it grew on me. Oh, and if you happen to be one of those who was extremely disappointed with Phillips’ departure from pop, save your money and only get this if you find it cheap.