Phillips & Driver

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

Phillips & Driver

Togetherness (Bar None) Longtime Austinites know Gretchen Phillips has a way of coaxing original sentiment out of cover songs. Togetherness finds her paired with New York-based cabaret singer David Driver, performing an eclectic selection of longing love songs. The album has the veneer of a late-Sixties release of vocalists like Mel Tormé singing whatever contemporary hits their labels foisted upon them, but since this is an artist-directed proposition, here the results are inspired. The duo imbue a twang-laden rendition of the Scud Mountain Boys' "Grudge" with empathy (as opposed to pity) for the stoned protagonist trying to rekindle the spark one more time. Driver and Phillips then take Badfinger's "Day After Day" on a solitary, acoustic journey miles away from its pedigree. Driver's synth-pop version of Jimmie Rodgers' "Secretly" and Phillips' soaring take on "I Loved You Once in Silence" from the musical Camelot are prescient meditations on the suppression of love that become modern gay/lesbian liberation anthems in their new context. Anyone who still doubts Barry Manilow's prowess should hear Phillips sing "Could It Be Magic?" Losing the original's bombastic arrangement, Phillips captures the song's mix of ecstasy and fear in the face of overwhelming love. In addition to the covers, "Lesson" is Phillips' own heartfelt wartime value reappraisal, while Driver contributes "Oh Starsky," an open letter to Paul Michael Glaser about the shared AIDS epidemic making them into kindred spirits of sorts. No matter how love is defined, from song to song, Togetherness is a joy to listen to. (Cactus Cafe, Thursday, March 13, 10pm)

****

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Gretchen Phillips, David Driver

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