Glen Phillips has a new album and an upcoming benefit show — with Toad the Wet Sprocket — for Doctors Without Walls. | Credit: Courtesy

When Glen Phillips brings his clean-toned acoustic guitar, versatile voice, friendly stage-side manner, and wide-ranging songbook to SOhO, it seems like old home week. This room is a long-favored hometown haunt for the singer-songwriter/Toad the Wet Sprocket front man, and a venue where Phillips has honed his impressive craft as a warm and inviting solo artist.

Last week, as Phillips hit the SOhO stage — with its upgraded sound system and fancier stage digs — he had bonus points of appeal going for him. He is still riding high in the live music afterglow after the pandemic lockdown/shutdown, when he was forced to go the streaming route. More importantly, he was on the literal brink of releasing a luminous new solo album, There Is So Much Here — his first solo release since 2016 “breakup” album Swallowed by the New.

Glen Phillips’ new album ’There Is So Much Here’ | Credit: Courtesy

His new collection, duly sampled at SOhO, is a multi-directional wonder, with Toad-esque tunes like “Big Changes” (with a delicious change-up in the bridge) and “Center of the Circle,” but also navigates some elegant pop maneuvers — with echoes of Paul Simon, Rufus Wainwright, and Randy Newman — on a should-be-classic song like “Call the Moondust.”

The album’s title, There Is So Much Here, is lifted out of the moving “Sound of Drinking,” an appreciation of life in the face of COVID-ian catastrophe, which is one of the most profound post-pandemic songs I’ve yet heard. It resonated with a particular boldness and grace in the presence of a live audience at SOhO.

Also in the evening’s song mix were a few morsels from the expanding Toad the Wet Sprocket catalog, including the “greatest hits” “All I Want,” “Windmills” and “Crazy Life.” (Heads-up: Toad will make a rare hometown appearance at the Marjorie Luke Theatre on December 8 in a benefit for the nonprofit Doctors Without Walls).

At SOhO, Phillips also reached out to a local friend and comrade in musical crime, Jesse Rhodes — a wonderful singer-songwriter-producer and former leader of Stegosaurus, who really should get out to play more often. Rhodes half-reluctantly came up to play his strikingly fine song “Trees,” by direct request of the star of the show.

Phillips has always had a slightly melancholic romantic and peacenik streak, demonstrated on this night by his opening and closing bookend songs. His beauteous anti-materialist ode “Don’t Need Anything” guided us gently into the show, and his crepuscular balladeer version of Elvis Costello’s hit “(What’s so Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding” eased us out of the show, and out into the good night.

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