"Little Moon" is mostly sunny. Grant-Lee Phillips' new album opens with the cheerful, jaunty "Good Morning Happiness," which hits the spot like a first cup of coffee. He closes with "The Sun Shines On Jupiter," a bit of vaudeville that playfully complains about the "sweater weather" there.
Phillips also sings a delicate lullaby, a swaggering love song and a drinking tune that pleads for peace. It's all captivating, in part because Phillips' voice has the powerful pull of a well-stoked fireplace on a chilly fall evening _ warm, hypnotic and a little smoky.
Much of the album was recorded live by a crack band, which reinforces the relaxed mood. For variety, Phillips adds strings here and brass there, always to good effect.
"Blind Tom" sweetly portrays a pianist and suggests songs travel on the wind for those who know how to listen. Maybe that's where Phillips gets this good stuff.
CHECK THIS OUT: "Older Now" is both poignant and funny. Over piano and strings, the 45-year-old Phillips sings about mistakes, regrets and angels as he considers the passage of time. His bottom line: "The truth is sinking in."