Kelly Joe’s latest record is an entirely solo, exclusively instrumental offering that both reflects on his life and experiences and expands his personal musical envelope. In the latter context, you must therefore expect more than a modicum of comparatively uneasy listening within a genre-defying musical landscape that’s impossible to pin down. Sure, you may think you’re in for a slightly uncomfortable ride, but it turns out an intensely invigorating one nevertheless. Here Kelly Joe effectively deconstructs the humble guitar which he so clearly loves and respects; he brings to his time-honoured delta blues sensibility a strong dose of avant-garde acoustic jazz playing. That means lashings of unusual tunings, weird atonal-sounding slide effects, limpidly executed percussive noodlings and even brief passages of improv in the spirit of Ornette Coleman and the free-jazzers. I hear Kelly Joe closer to Henry Kaiser and especially John Fahey here – check out the severely twisted old-time of Hometown With Melody, or the seductive rambling freestyle ragtime of Hattie’s Hat, for starters – or the shades of Leo Kottke on East To Kansas… On pieces like American Exchange Hotel and the rippling fingerstyle of Blue Daughter Tattoo, just when you think you know where a snatch of melody might be going, Kelly Joe throws in weird progressions and off-kilter notes that toss the rug out from under you – but in a thoroughly enchanting and stimulating way. The Jenny Spin seems at first acquaintance a structureless ramble with tinkling bells, but on repeated play it acquires an almost hallucinatory Garcia-like logic. Kelly Joe’s got a clever way with titles too, for several tracks verge on the onomatopoeic: for instance, Blowing Dust 40 Miles really does sound just like that! Putting it as simply as I can, Kelly Joe’s technique is stunning: the sounds he produces from a “mere” guitar (whether six- or twelve-string or lap-slide) are more extraordinary than ever. I’m firmly convinced he’s surpassed even his own lofty playing standards on this new record, which I can only describe as a masterpiece of innovative and inspirational musicianship represented in magnificently skewed delicacy and proudly wayward beauty.