Sam Phillips has been sending up glowing pop flares into the music world for years now, but not enough people have noticed her blazings, which is a shame. The songs on "Zero Zero Zero," a best-of collection culled from four albums, range from bursts of perfect sing-along craftsmanship to brittle, off-center meditations. Phillips evokes the policy-wonk-meets-Emily Dickinson rock of classic Elvis Costello (a guest musician on Phillips' records, along with the likes of R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and XTC's Colin Moulding).
Radio should hang its head in shame for not playing "I Need Love" and "Where the Colors Don't Go" ; the rest of the CD -- especially the desperate "Lying" and the sharply poignant "Strawberry Road" -- will please anyone intrigued by pop songs that aren't pushovers.