Review: Glen Phillips is thoughtful and tuneful on new album

“There Is So Much Here,” Glen Phillips (Compass Records)

The son of a physicist, Glen Phillips has always been a cerebral singer-songwriter, and his new solo album is a thoughtful, tuneful collection of contemplations on life’s simple charms.

“There Is So Much Here” considers the pleasure derived from a glass of water, the value of being OK with being just OK, and the elusive sweet spot between the past and future. “Find the beauty in the things you see,” Phillips sings on “Call the Moondust,” a spiritual of sorts that says life is accompanied by the song of God.

The frontman for Toad the Wet Sprocket, Phillips shares his musings via piano ballads and bouncy, retro guitar pop. Highlights include “I Was a Riot,” built on a hummable bass line, and “Big Changes,” notable for a roller-coaster melody before Phillips extolls the value of taking a break, which playfully cues a wordless interlude. He’s in fine voice throughout, and “The Bluest Eye” evokes the dramatic sonorities of Rufus Wainwright as the arrangement slowly blossoms.

While the album’s title sounds like a celebration, Phillips acknowledges how elusive contentment can be. “A new day is here,” he sings, somehow sounding wary. Smart guy.

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