Grant-Lee Phillips has been making sweet alt-country for over a quarter century now, first fronting Grant Lee Buffalo, and then on his own. For 2018 Widdershins (QRO review), he took a turn towards the political, maybe his most since 1993 debut Buffalo album Fuzzy, but now he returns to the personal for Lightning, Show Us Your Stuff, where he shows his soul.
Still decidedly in the alt-traditional ‘town troubadour’ mode (his Stars Hollow street musician character’s self-appointed title on Gilmore Girls), Lightning stars with a wry smile from the long-running performer, “Ain’t Done Yet”. While some of the slower and more restrained pieces run together a bit, there are a number of standouts on the record. “Sometimes You Wake Up In Charleston” is a touching take on the beautiful, tragic heart of the South, followed by the great ‘dark times a-comin’ revival “Gather Up”. And “Straight to the Ground” is a strong, sad kiss-off to the past and all that lays there.
While one can’t catch the intimate musician on the road because that’s the world we live in right now, Phillips does do regular Sunday StageIt online performances, because that’s also the world we live in right now, for Grant-Lee to Show Us his Lightning.