Singer-songwriter Grant-Lee Phillips has traversed tough waters at least a couple times since he released his last album Walking in the Green Corn in 2012. And now he’s set to release his newest album, The Narrow, on March 18, 2016.
“The title is plucked from one of the songs, “Moccasin Creek,” and it goes ‘Go down to the narrows, where the water picks up,’ it’s a reference to a particular place that to me seems to symbolize the greater tone of the record,” Phillips said. “Navigating tough times, you know, a lot of my songs are about that. Trying to move your way towards the light. Navigate tough waters, as they say.”
Phillips will be bringing his tales from The Narrow to Jammin’ Java on Thursday, Jan. 28. When asked what tribulations he’s had to navigate through over the past couple of years, Phillips revealed that his father died in 2013.
Phillips and his family also picked up and moved from Los Angeles, his home for more than 30 years, and moved to Nashville in July of 2013 and he said that he loves living there.
“It’s a good change of pace and I just think it’s a much more normal kind of place to bring the kids up,” he said. “Los Angeles is a place where people are always evolving and it’s a place where people come from all over the world to chase their dream. And that’s all well and good, but there’s something about being able to put your ear to the ground and hear yourself think.”
He said that those two events, his father dying and he and his family moving, created disarray in his life. “All of that has a way of bringing chaos into your life, but it’s all a part of life, of course,” Phillips said.
“So yeah, the songs reflect those experiences. But I think it’s a hopeful album. I think it strives for some new possibilities, even if we don’t know what those things are moving forward.”
Phillips said that the arrangements and tonality of the songs on the record “aren’t altogether new territory,” but that it’s more on the organic side. “The old fans will probably take to it quite easily,” Phillips said. “And for those who are entirely new they have nothing to go off anyhow, so it’s all new to them. But I just feel like this approach is one that places the words and the melody and performance center stage.
“It’s less about the collaboration or production – in fact, it has nothing to do with that. It’s all about kind of capturing the moment in time.”
Perhaps one of the reasons that Phillips’ new album is able to capture moments in time is because he’s played many of the songs on the record several times on the road before even recording him. He said that he had been carrying some of the songs with him for two years before playing them in studio.
Another of Phillips’ creative outlets from the past, “Gilmore Girls”, has been making news with the revelation that a four episode mini-series is in the works. On the show, Phillips, whose character’s name is Grant, was elected to be the town’s troubadour. He said that while he hasn’t heard anything about being cast in the show’s revival, he’s at the ready to lend his guitar and voice to the town of Stars Hollow if asked.
“I am poised and ready. I’m not entirely privy to all of the inner workings of the production, but I certainly would be there in a heartbeat. I guess we’ll file that under let’s wait and see,” Phillips said. “I’ve gained a lot of fans through that show from Hamburg and all over the place who arrive at my show with Gilmore Girls DVDs under their arms. It’s great.”
• For more information about Grant-Lee Phillips, visit grantleephillips.com.