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Grant-Lee Phillips, ‘Strangelet’ (Zoë/ Rounder)

While his recent album of ’80s covers was a strangely tepid affair, singer/songwriter Grant-Lee Phillips rarely disappoints with his own introspective material. The gripping Strangelet strives for a tricky balance of darkness and light, lacing gloomy folk-rock melodies with messages of hope, and mostly succeeds, thanks to the raw charisma of Phillips’ hangover vocals. His charming imitations of T. Rex’s woozy glam pop, as on “Raise the Spirit,” could spur Marc Bolan to bolt from the grave and join in.

Now Hear This: Grant-Lee Phillips – “Soft Asylum (No Way Out)” STREAMING MP3