Kelly Joe Phelps warms up his audience with a resonator guitar clinic where he finger picks like an absolute Mississippi Blues champ on the track “Talking' to Jehovah.” The music on this record takes me back to the sounds of Colin James’s 1997 release National Steel, with very clean production and guitar playing that is simply out of this world. I haven’t heard amazing guitar playing like this since my last spin of Bruce Cockburn’s “Foxglove.”
KJP’s voice is also something to be talked about, he has a lightly hoarse voice that is smooth as silk and it lends itself to his bluesy Folk style. With producer Steve Dawson at the controls I’m not surprised this album is so rich with beautiful tones and exceptional performances. Brother Sinner & the Whale was amazingly recording in only three days. One of the standout tracks on the album is “Pilgrim’s Reach,” s a very gripping Gospel song loaded with metaphors about suffering and living the uphill life where the choice of taking an easy road always tempting. “Down to the Praying Ground” is another standout track where KJP takes the technical aspect down a notch and plays some simple slide Blues and laments about praying to the lord for forgiveness of wrongdoings, its the perfect pace changer for the album. The final track, “Brother Pilgrim,” is another fine installment of great playing as an instrumental, the perfect bookend.
In the end I can’t say enough about Kelly Joe Phelps’s unmatched guitar skills, I simply can’t remember the last time I heard such amazing playing.