Sam Phillips

'Solid State: Songs From the Long Play'

By Marc Hirsh
Globe Correspondent / June 14, 2011

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Chances are the only way you have ever heard anything that sounds like Sam Phillips is if you are already a fan of Sam Phillips. Even Robert Plant and Alison Krauss’s cover of her “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us’’ can’t compare to the slapdash clatter of the songs that Phillips records. “Solid State’’ collects on CD songs that Phillips has been releasing online, and with its patchwork origins, it’s held together with even more spit and string than her usual. Of course, spit and string is part of Phillips’s charm, and the lopsided galumph of songs like “Lever Pulled Down’’ suggests a sort of steampunk Americana. The pieces don’t always fit, making “Solid State’’ her most uneven album in at least a decade. But every track offers the pleasure of Phillips’s marvelous voice, which sounds like Scotch seeping through cracks in wood. “Nothing about us looks good on paper,’’ she sings on the closing “So Glad You’re Here,’’ “but paper’s no good in the middle of the night.’’ Phillips knows that things don’t need to be neat and clean in order to work just fine. (Out now)

ESSENTIAL “Broken Circle’’