It’s been six years since Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman Glen Phillips released a solo album. That was Swallowed by the New, a rumination on the loss he felt in the aftermath of his divorce. Since then, the world surrounding Phillips (and, really, all of us) has become increasingly toxic and unsettling. But with his new LP, There Is So Much Here, Phillips takes the time to look for glimmers of hope, gratitude, and grace.
These messages are delivered over the course of 11 thoughtful sparse ballads and heartland rockers. The up-tempo lead single “Big Changes” serves as a mission statement of sorts for the entire album, using the chorus to loosely address seeking a reprieve from the chaos of the current sociopolitical climate and an impassioned verse, where Phillips announces he:
Won’t run out of love, run out of wonder
I sure won’t run out of tears
Though I can feel the pull, it’s trying to drag me under
I won’t give in to my fear.
On the more subdued end of the sonic spectrum is “The Sound of Drinking.” It’s an ode to being present, acknowledging the everyday occurrences that one can take for granted. That can be something as simple as the autumn leaves changing color or listening to your loved one’s breath. Phillips reflects, “There’s so much here I had never seen.”
Phillips takes the concept of appreciation for your surroundings from the literal to the abstract on the elegant album closer “Call the Moondust.” He opens the song by singing:
You can call it magic,
You can make believe,
Or just find the beauty in the things you see.
This is Phillips’ way of addressing just how much of the world and how it works is unknowable. Instead of that inscrutability leading to feelings of dread and anxiety, he opts to lose himself in the wonder of it all.
It’s easier said than done, of course, but There Is So Much Here is a real, earnest commitment to finding and accepting moments of joy. Phillips provides a warm, necessary message for listeners.
Glen Phillips’ There Is So Much Here is out Nov. 4 on Compass Records.