Glenn Phillips – Angel Sparks

Angel Sparks
Angel Sparks

Glenn?! What’s up, you ol’ squirrelly Atlanta devil? You haven’t released an album since 1996; it’s good to hear from you again. I never figured you’d given up music, it’s much too important to you for that – heck, you’ve been coaxing otherworldly solos out of your guitar since the late ’60s, when you were with psychedelic cult heroes the Hampton Grease Band. I just wondered if we’d ever be graced with a new CD.

So here’s Angel Sparks, another in a long line of your inspired instrumental guitar music. All your trademarks are present, from your famous “dive-bomb” vibrato to your Jekyll/Hyde approach as you mesmerize us with gentle melodic passages, only to jolt us awake with blistering, blinding solos immediately after. The way you build tension in “Nightmare,” the CD’s centerpiece, well, let’s just say there are a lot of filmmakers who could take a page or two from that book. In the liner notes you mention the songs are about death and its effect on the living. The cool thing is the tracks don’t come off as depressed ruminations about dying. On the contrary, the collection’s mood is buoyant and uplifting. Your flirtation with island/world music rhythms and percussion on a few tracks is a nice touch, too, as is the appearance of hammer dulcimer (a first for you). And I see from the liners you’re still using your trusty, modified Gibson L6S. Sweet.

But label it or place it in a category? Nope, still can’t do it, Glenn. Rock? New Age? New jazz? It’s none of those, yet it’s all three. How about we call it simply, “Glenn music”? Yeah, I like that. With all the rote, unimaginative playing out there, it’s wonderful to have you back. Now, let’s talk about a tour…

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Oct ’03 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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