Classic Rock Blues
The last Kelly Joe Phelps album, 2009's Western Bell, was preceded by a record company split and followed by mutters of dissatisfaction from his hardcore. Undeterred, and forsaking lap steel for bottlenecked National and Martin A35, the Oregon songwriter has found creative space to sculpt this rare jewel.
The intricate fingerpicking and mesmerising modulations weave a lovely spell, skirting the same waters previously charted by Mississippi John Hurt, John Fahey and Reverend Gary Davis. Any 'Devil has all the best tunes' naysayers are advised to put prejudice aside, as Phelps's compositions are heartfelt, economic and precise. A beautiful intensity pervades as Phelps maps a world where calm prayerfulness and bluesy doubt find equal footing. Amen and hallelujah to that.