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Fan Dance

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

Sam Phillips made her Nonesuch debut in 2001 with Fan Dance, her first all-new studio recording since the 1996 release Omnipop. The Los Angeles Times has called Sam’s work "superbly crafted, melodically compelling, and lyrically challenging." Unlike her more elaborately produced previous efforts, Fan Dance is simple and unadorned, with the feeling of an intense, look-you-in-the-eye, late-night conversation.

"I wasn’t trying to imitate any style, to be any certain thing," says Sam. "I just disconnected, went away from the culture, and tried to create a world I was interested in."

Sam and longtime collaborator T Bone Burnett deliberately chose to operate on an intimate scale. As Sam explains, "I feel that when I hear a lot of records, there’s no room for me as a listener. This record is not built like a stadium to present music to the largest audience possible. This record is built more like a bungalow, or a salon to receive guests—hopefully one at a time."

The emphasis is on performance over production: "Most of the songs on the record are live takes with a few overdubs, and that was really fun. There were a lot of not-perfect notes left in. It’s so plain. That was our aim."

Along with T Bone as producer and bassist, Sam was accompanied in the studio by guitarist Marc Ribot and drummer Carla Azar. Gillian Welch lent her voice to a pair tracks and Van Dyke Parks, a frequent guest on Sam’s records, created the austerely beautiful string arrangement to "Wasting My Time," and played harpsichord on the haunting "Taking Pictures."


Sam Phillips, vocal (1-12), guitar (1, 3, 6-8, 10, 11), piano (2)
Jim Keltner, hand drum, banjo, cymbal (1)
Carla Azar, low hand drum (1), sounds (1), traps (3, 6, 9, 11), maracas (6, 9), bass drum (10), snare drum (10)
T Bone Burnett, bass (1, 5, 6, 10, 11), piano (5), guitar (9, 12), tambourine (10)
Marc Ribot, Quattro banjo guitar (1), guitar (2, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12), banjo (2), Optigan (7)
Gillian Welch, vocal, bass (3, 9)
Martin Tillman, cello (4)
Van Dyke Parks, harpsichord (5)
Rick Will, bass (9)

Produced by T Bone Burnett
Recorded and mixed at Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, CA;
Village Recorders, West Los Angeles, CA; Electro Magnetic Sound, West Los Angeles, CA
Engineered by Mike Piersante
“Love Is Everywhere I Go” recorded by Rick Will
Mixed by T Bone Burnett and Mike Piersante
Technical Support: Paul Ackling
Production Coordinator: Valerie Pack
Assistant Engineers: Christine Sirois, Okhee Kim, Chris Reynolds, Doug Boehm
Mastered by Gavin Lurssen at The Mastering Lab

Design by Frank Olinsky
Photography by Donata Wenders

All songs by Sam Burnett, published by Eden Bridge Music (ASCAP). “Wasting My Time” arranged by Van Dyke Parks. “Five colors blind the eye” from Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tsu, translated by John CH Wu © 1961 St. John’s University Press; reprinted by arrangement with Shambala Publications, Inc., Boston.

Executive Producer: David Bither


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

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