Nowadays, when Liz Phair looks back on her excellent 1993 debut, Exile in Guyville, she claims she based her ideas on the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St. because she didn't know how to make a record. On the release of her fifth album, 12 years later, the formerly lo-fi indie poster girl claims that Somebody's Miracle is a song-by-song answer to Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life.
Like nearly half of the Wonder album, Somebody's Miracle dwells on love and relationships. The collection, produced by John Alagia (John Mayer) and John Shanks (Sheryl Crow), places the singer in a Phairytale of nonserrated confections that certainly wouldn't be out of place on a Crow album. But unlike the future Mrs. Armstrong, Phair was once lauded for imperfect vocals and literate, literal lyrics that featured the truth and consequences of fucking.
As with 2003's Liz Phair, the disc features the shiny, slightly happier model of the singer/songwriter. If the 38-year-old still spewed her salty bile, folks would probably criticize her for staying in a rut and refusing to change. Look at Somebody's Miracle for what it is: an unapologetically slick, well-made adult contemporary record filled with great songs and melodies. This is pop. If you want "Fuck and Run," listen to the old stuff or see her live.
Liz Phair plays the Roxy Theatre, with Matt Pond PA, Mon., Oct. 10, 8 p.m. $21-$25. 3110 Roswell Road. 404-249-6400. www.atlantaconcerts.com/roxy.html.