Creeper unfolds at an unhurried pace, luxuriating in Phillips' rich, resonant voice, backed by a serene assemblage of rustic instruments (cello, pedal steel, mandolin). The effect is enveloping on pleasant, melodic numbers such as the charming single "Mona Lisa," amiable "Dirty Secret" and the elegant, epic "Josephine of the Swamps."
Phillips delivers every line with big-hearted intimacy, his warm delivery helping sell slight sentiments like "Always Friends" and the earnest yet awkward "Lily-A-Passion" as if they were world-wise romantic confidences. But Creeper is so completely drenched in tasteful atmospherics that it's numbing. By the closing song, a disarmingly idyllic cover of Gram Parsons' "Hickory Wind," our admiration of Phillips' talents is more reserved than visceral. Like the beautiful girl no one will approach, Creeper proves too pretty for its own good.
Grant Lee Phillips plays the Echo Lounge Wed., March 10. 8 p.m. $12.