Red Deer Advocate
One of the most expressive vocalists within the Americana genre, Kelly Joe Phelps has also long been recognized for his dexterity within various guitar styles.
On his latest album, Phelps sings not a word. Instead, in producing a nocturnal collection of 11 solo guitar instrumentals, the West Coast native allows his six and 12 strings to reclaim their rightful place.
Haunting and adventurous, the tunes never get bogged down in noodling. So balanced and spacious are the songs, it is difficult to accept that much of the album was improvised in the studio.
Much like an unfamiliar but fragrant coffee blend might be appreciated, Western Bell intrigues and challenges, with lingering flavors that ultimately soothe.
While listening, many names float along the notes — Richard Thompson, Leadbelly, Tony Rice, Jack Lawrence — but one is left with only one: Kelly Joe Phelps.