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Don't Do Anything

Don't Do Anything cover art

Track Listing

Click tracks with speaker icon to listen
1No Explanations3:08
2Can't Come Down1:59
3Another Song2:15
4Don't Do Anything3:28
5Little Plastic Life2:17
6My Career in Chemistry2:20
7Flowers Up2:28
8Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us2:44
9Shake It Down3:54
10Under the Night3:54
12Watching Out of This World3:03
13Bonus Download: Zero Zero Zero1:41
14Bonus Download: Taking Pictures1:48
15Bonus Download: I Don’t Know Why1:36

News & Reviews

  • NY Times: Sam Phillips's "Don't Do Anything" Shines with "Telling" Tunes of "Terse Elegance"

    New York Times music critic Jon Pareles visits some albums he missed in 2008 amidst the deluge of new releases and recommends Sam Phillips's Don't Do Anything as one that was "worth the wait." Through the songs' Beatles-esque sound and "casual, confiding side" of Sam's vocals, says Pareles, comes "the terse elegance of songs about love gone bad and the lessons and possibilities it leaves behind, songs that only become more telling because they stay so deliberately unadorned."

  • Nonesuch Artists Continue to Draw Year-End Accolades

    Since the last Nonesuch Journal entry of 2008, which laid out scores of year-end best-of lists featuring Nonesuch albums and artists, still more critical praise has come in placing this music among the year's best.

About this Album

“With deft, powerful strokes, the singer-songwriter chisels emotions, impressions, yearnings and regrets…” —Los Angeles Times

“[Don’t Do Anything] is striking for its uncharacteristically dissonant sonic touches. The distorted guitars and crashing cymbals contrast intriguingly with [Phillips's] fragile, vulnerable vocals, yet they also fit with her lyrics’ emotional turmoil ... [a] set of stormy, heartaching songs.” —Performing Songwriter

Nonesuch Records released singer/songwriter/guitarist Sam Phillips’s album Don’t Do Anything on June 3, 2008. The record’s 12 songs were written by Phillips, who also served as the album’s producer—a first for her. In addition to her critically acclaimed records, Phillips has contributed music to a number of major films and television shows, including the popular WB/CW show Gilmore Girls.

After recording and performing music from her first two Nonesuch albums, Fan Dance (2001) and A Boot and a Shoe (2004), Phillips said: “I realized I wanted to make something lighter, so I began to collaborate with the musicians I’d been touring with, violinist and guitarist Eric Gorfain and drummer Jay Bellerose. On the road, we’d become a band. So we went into the studio and did this album as a collaboration, and that’s how Don’t Do Anything came to be.”

In addition to Phillips on vocals, piano, and electric and acoustic guitar; Gorfain on acoustic and electric violin, piano, banjo, dancing molecules, Stroh violin, electric mandolin, and electric and baritone guitar; and Bellerose on drums, Don’t Do Anything features The Section Quartet (violinists Gorfain and Daphne Chen, violist Leah Katz, and cellist Richard Dodd), bassists Paul Bryan and Jennifer Condos, and pump organist Patrick Warren.

The album takes its title from Phillips’ song “Don’t Do Anything,” which starts with the lines: “I love you when you don’t do anything / When you’re useless I love you more.” The songwriter calls that “a subversive concept to put out into a world that is very performance-oriented, where we’re programmed as to what our goals should be. I was thinking about all the men that I love in my life…I watch them try to achieve so much and they just need to hear it. We all need to hear it.”

Another song from Don’t Do Anything, “Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us,” also is featured on Robert Plant and Allison Krauss’ recent release, Raising Sand. The Observer (UK) called the song “poetic,” and The Boston Globe says, “The austere ‘Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us’…at times feels like a raga and at times like circus music from a Wes Anderson movie.” The Dallas Morning News calls the song “a percussive, slightly tribal gem that seeps into your consciousness.”

For the first time, Phillips producedher own record, with the help of Gorfain and engineer Mike Piersante. (T Bone Burnett produced her previous eight albums.) “T Bone and I had done so many records together and he said, ‘Well, if you don’t know how to make records by now …’ And it’s true. I do know when something feels right. It’s time for me to produce my own records. It’s time for me to take the reins and go it alone,” she says.


Sam Phillips, vocals (1-12), guitars (1, 2, 4-6, 8-12), piano (3, 6, 7, 9)
Jay Bellerose, drums (1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 8-11)
Paul Bryan, bass (5, 6)
Jennifer Condos, bass (8)
Richard Dodd, cello (4, 7, 8, 11)
Eric Gorfain, electric guitar (1, 5, 6, 12), piano (1, 12), baritone guitar (4, 6), violin (4, 5, 7, 11), string arrangement (4), dancing molecules (6), Stroh violin (8), electric mandolin (8), banjo (9), electric violin (10, 12)
Patrick Warren, pump organ (8)
The Section Quartet, strings (4, 7, 11): Eric Gorfain, violin; Daphne Chen, violin; Leah Katz, viola; Richard Dodd, cello

Produced by Sam Phillips
Tracks 1, 2, 6, 9, 12 recorded and mixed by Eric Gorfain
Tracks 3, 4, 8, 10, 11 recorded and mixed by Mike Piersante
Tracks 5, 8 recorded by Eric Gorfain, mixed by Mike Piersante
Track 7, strings recorded by Chris Wonzer
Track 9, banjo recorded by Paul Du Gre
Assistant Engineers: Emile Kelman, TK, Erich Talaba, Graham Hope, Kevin Dean, and Bill Mims
Tape Slinger: Paul Du Gre
Guitar Technician:  Curtis Laur
Production Assistant: Ivy Scoff
Recorded and mixed at Littlebox Studio, Electro Magnetic Studio, and Sunset Sound Studios
The Section Quartet appears courtesy of Decca Records

All songs written by Sam Phillips, Eden Bridge Music

Art Direction & Design by Jeff Nicholas for The-Uprising Intl.
Photography by Autumn de Wilde
Collages by Sam Phillips


All formats of this album are available from Nonesuch in the United States only.

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