Kelly Joe Phelps at the Artiste Sanctuary Performance Series at St. Jude’s in Cedar City, UT
It’s as thin as the edge of a razor, the roadway separating Heaven from Hell, sin from salvation, redemption from anguish. It’s a lonely road to go down and like the old gospel states, you’ve got to stroll it for yourself. Kelly Joe Phelps has been doing lot of soul searching since his last record, ‘Western Bell’ came out in 2009. 3 years later on, his journey has wound its method to a recording studio in Vancouver, and Kelly Joe has actually once again beaten a path to Steve Dawson’s door with a new batch of tunes tucked into his satchel that show both the new insights gotten along the journey as well as things that have been come by the wayside. Together Phelps and the veteran producer embarked on a 3 day recording odyssey that marked their fourth collaboration considering that Dawson played slide on ‘Slingshot Professionals’, produced ‘Tunesmith Retrofit’ and released ‘Western Bell after it showed too bold for Rounder Records. The outcome is ‘Bro Sinner and the Whale’, a record that might effectively happened recognized as the very best of a currently really outstanding body of work.
Because his debut album ‘Lead Me On’, came out in 1994, the Pacific Northwest based vocalist and songwriter has written and performed some of the most compelling slide guitar based music ever taped. Though he invested his early years playing totally free jazz, he has actually never strayed too far from the roots music world that has become his passion. “I ‘d invested all this time discovering improvisational music, but I ‘d constantly had an attraction to folk based music kinds. So, I was listening to a great deal of Chet Atkins, Merle Travis and a few of the newer individuals like Leo Kottke and John Fahey. My music is a reflection of all the music I loved and steeped myself in. There’s a space and openness in rural music that makes sense to me.” Playing a lap slide in a design that both stimulated the noises of the ancients and pointed towards brand-new possibilities for the instrument, Kelly Joe’s music appeared to stem in another time as he sang with the voice of an old soul, tired with experience, yet excited with all of the potential customers that life brings.
After a number of years of extensively checking out the potential of his slide, Phelps’ attention slowly moved from crucial virtuosity towards a focus on songwriting. “I wished to keep moving forward, so I began to spend more effort thinking about my tunes and not so much about the guitar due to the fact that ultimately, I got tired with it because I felt that I had discovered all I might for myself within that noise. So, the work felt ended up to me.”
Phelps’ curious mind and restless spirit have actually constantly carried him forward to new types of expression, however experimentation is not without its expenses. When ‘Western Bell’ baffled his record business, puzzled some fans and failed to create new audiences for his work, Phelps pulled back from recording to look for a new direction. Unexpectedly, inspiration came through a re- ¬ assessment of his Christian roots, and led to an unanticipated flurry of imaginative activity that provided birth to a whole brand-new set of tunes and a reinvigorated technique to playing the guitar as Phelps decided to play traffic jam instead of his traditional lap slide to achieve a noise that wouldn’t have run out put on a traditional John Fahey or Reverend Gary David record.
With tune titles like ‘Speaking with Jehovah’, ‘I have actually been Converted’ and ‘The Holy Spirit Flood’, there’s no escaping that something has 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 included for great procedure to develop what certainly must be the most literary gospel tunes taped considering that Bob Dylan’s incendiary Christian albums came out three years ago.