"He did a lazy sway . . . To the tune o' those Weary Blues. " --- Langston Hughes

Photo entitled "Jazz City" (NYC, 2007) by William Ellis
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Feb 1, 2007

Lemonade from Lemons

“I've really enjoyed the people I've been working with, so on the creative side of it, it's been really wonderful,” said singer/songwriter Glen Phillips about his career as a solo musician.

Phillips, formerly of the group Toad the Wet Sprocket, released his new work “Mr. Lemons” in 2006, and recorded it in east Nashville with a group of local players and some dear friends.

“There is definitely a character to players in Nashville and that has, I think, a really big effect on things,” said Phillips. “It was a really great group of people to be around, and that part was exciting. In Nashville, people just want to play, they are all about just working, and know they will get a job today and get a job tomorrow, and it's great to have people who will come in (to the studio) and do whatever it takes to make things sound good.”

The acoustic-based “Mr. Lemons” is a divergent stride in direction to Phillips' 2005 “Winter Pays For Summer.” However, Phillips knew he wanted a stripped-down sound for “Mr. Lemons,” which he said proved to be more of a challenge in certain ways because instead of adding to make a better song, he was faced with taking elements out.

“The stuff before was kind of very produced and ‘pop-y' and was jumping up and saying, ‘Look at me, look at me, look at me!' So, the new stuff is a little less aggressive that way,” said Phillips. “I just wanted something correct for when I went on tour so people wouldn't end up wondering who this guy was, and where is the big band and backup vocals and everything.”

The album showcases Phillips' songwriting collaborations with producer Neilson Hubbard and guest vocals from Kim Richey and Garrison Starr.

Phillips returned from a sabbatical that took him to the cities of Amsterdam, Berlin, Bath, London and Barcelona.

“My family and I, we were out traveling, and it was really good to get out of my habit - I had been in such a routine, going out on the road, coming home only to leave again, so I was feeling kind of homeless and so it was good to reprioritize,” said Phillips.

With its origins in Santa Barbara, Toad the Wet Sprocket was named after a Monty Python comedy sketch, and its four original members were high school friends who formed the group in 1986. The band garnered mainstream success with songs like “All I Want” and “Walk on the Ocean.” It played more than 300 shows during its 1991 “Fear” album tour that culminated with throat surgery for Phillips. In 1998, the group eventually parted ways.

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