Jazz Magazine (France)
NEW Kelly Joe Phelps could have just been an inspiring fingerpicking virtuoso but his work has always been infused with a meaningful spirituality that finds fertile ground on his new album inspired by the book of Jonah. Recorded in mono, ‘Brother Sinner & The Whale’ holds eleven perfectly sounding originals, linked by a remarkable unity of tone.
Even though Phelps’ voice has never been exceptionally pure, he compensates by a distinctive use of tone and binds it all together in a staggeringly fluid flow of notes and chords. The two instrumentals, Spit Me Outta The Whale and The Holy Spirit Flood also bear out the high quality of his playing. Of note is the re-occurrence of the traditional I’ve Been Converted, which also figured as the opening song on his first album which came out in 1995. So it’s near on twenty years that Phelps has been sculpting grey skies from his fingers and his bottleneck, an heir to folk traditions, country blues or gospel, where, with a fierce honesty, he has excelled.