Kelly Joe Phelps at the Artiste Sanctuary Show Series at St. Jude’s in Cedar City, UT
It’s as thin as the edge of a razor, the roadway separating Paradise from Hell, sin from redemption, redemption from anguish. It’s a lonesome road to go down and like the old gospel says, you’ve got to stroll it on your own. Kelly Joe Phelps has actually been doing lot of soul searching since his last record, ‘Western Bell’ came out in 2009. 3 years later, his journey has wound its way to a recording studio in Vancouver, and Kelly Joe has once again beaten a path to Steve Dawson’s door with a brand-new batch of songs tucked into his pouch that show both the new insights gotten along the journey along with things that have been dropped by the wayside. Together Phelps and the veteran manufacturer started a three day recording odyssey that marked their 4th cooperation since Dawson played slide on ‘Slingshot Professionals’, produced ‘Tunesmith Retrofit’ and launched ‘Western Bell after it proved too daring for Rounder Records. The outcome is ‘Sibling Sinner and the Whale’, a record that may extremely well happened acknowledged as the very best of an already very outstanding body of work.
Considering that his launching album ‘Lead Me On’, came out in 1994, the Pacific Northwest based singer and songwriter has actually written and carried out a few of the most engaging slide guitar based music ever recorded. Though he invested his early years playing free jazz, he has never wandered off too far from the roots music world that has actually become his enthusiasm. “I ‘d invested all this time discovering improvisational music, but I ‘d constantly had a destination to folk based music types. So, I was listening to a great deal of Chet Atkins, Merle Travis and a few of the more recent individuals like Leo Kottke and John Fahey. My music is a reflection of all the music I enjoyed and steeped myself in. There’s a space and openness in rural music that makes good sense to me.” Playing a lap slide in a style that both evoked the noises of the ancients and pointed towards brand-new possibilities for the instrument, Kelly Joe’s music seemed to come from another time as he sang with the voice of an old soul, tired with experience, yet excited with all of the prospects that life brings.
After numerous years of extensively checking out the capacity of his slide, Phelps’ attention gradually moved from crucial virtuosity towards a focus on songwriting. “I wanted to keep moving forward, so I began to spend more effort thinking of my tunes and not so much about the guitar because eventually, I got tired with it because I felt that I had found all I might for myself within that noise. So, the work felt completed to me.”
Phelps’ analytical mind and agitated spirit have always carried him forward to brand-new forms of expression, however experimentation is not without its expenses. When ‘Western Bell’ baffled his record company, puzzled some fans and stopped working to develop new audiences for his work, Phelps drew back from taping to search for a new instructions. Unexpectedly, motivation came through a re- ¬ assessment of his Christian roots, and resulted in an unanticipated flurry of innovative activity that provided birth to an entire new set of tunes and a revitalized technique to playing the guitar as Phelps opted to play bottleneck instead of his popular lap slide to attain a sound that wouldn’t have actually been out of place on a timeless John Fahey or Reverend Gary David record.
With tune titles like ‘Talking to Jehovah’, ‘I have actually been Converted’ and ‘The Holy Spirit Flood’, there’s no leaving that something has actually grown and changed in Kelly Joe’s world. Phelps’ lyrics fuse poetry from the Book of Jonah and the vintage gospel blues of Mississippi John Hurt with aspects of the early gospel work of Expense and Charlie Monroe tossed in for good step to produce what surely need to be the most literary gospel tunes tape-recorded considering that Bob Dylan’s incendiary Christian albums came out 3 years earlier.