Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Kelly Joe Phelps|
Lead Me On [15 Year Anniversary Edition]
Genres: Country, Blues, Pop
15 Year Anniversary Edition includes two bonus tracks, "We Got To Meet Death One Day" & "Ever Be Here Again". Not since Lucinda Williams debuted with an all-acoustic solo album of traditional country blues in 1979 has an a... more »
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15 Year Anniversary Edition includes two bonus tracks, "We Got To Meet Death One Day" & "Ever Be Here Again". Not since Lucinda Williams debuted with an all-acoustic solo album of traditional country blues in 1979 has an artist appeared on the folk-blues scene with the immediate authority of guitarist Kelly Joe Phelps. Equally indebted to traditional pioneers of Delta-style country blues like Leadbelly and Blind Lemon Jefferson as well as more exploratory visionaries like Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder, Phelps sings with dusty wisdom and plays like a master. Lead Me On opens with the traditional gospel tune "I've Been Converted" but focuses almost exclusively on magnificent originals from then on. Engineered by Mike Moore. Recorded at Dead Aunt Thelma's. This debut evergreen has scanned over 25,000 copies. DownBeat [****] "With his cloudy intonation and sensually nonchalant vocal delivery in sharp contrast to the glasslike clarity of his guitar picking, Phelps puts across a strong program dominated by original tunes."
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Luke Chaput | London | 02/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Kelly Joe Phelp's first offering is his most simple and most formulaic...but this is not a criticism! In 'Lead Me On', KJP plays lap-style blues with frightening soul and precision, consistently hitting a husky, mournful mid-range with his vocals as he evokes memories of distant tragedies, solitude, aimlessness, fatigue and loss. Okay - not the most optimistic outlook, but the music resounds with such profound nostalgia and lonely beauty that one can't help but drown in it, occasionally glimpsing one's own reflection amidst Kelly Joe's laments. It is interesting to see that his words will often merge and blend with each other, so that he sings much of the albumn vocalising feelings and moods as opposed to words. Kelly Joe strums up a lonely place caught between the memories of the past and the morbid certainty of the future. As with every good tragedy, this place is felt so acutely and portrayed with such empathy, that one can't help but join him in there, where the pain is addictive because it is also our own... Formulaic, yes - Kelly Joe bangs out every track on the same guitar with the same voice in the same mood with the similar patterns and progressions employed every time. But when you're dealing with a formula this powerful, I think it would be worse to risk changing it. For anyone who can see beyond the gloss - an essential."
Blues, yes; but entirely KJP
John Lasseter | Fairfield, CT | 05/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I read a review of KJP's "Slingshot Professionals" recently that referred to his early work on "Lead Me On" as that of a "blues imitator". I've also seen more than a few reviews that talk about how successfully he channels the old-time country blues masters on this work.
Honestly, I don't understand that. There are some traditional blues numbers on here, and all the songs owe an obvious debt to the form, but the thing that makes Kelly Joe so great is that everything, _everything_ he plays sounds like his own, and like no one else in the world could even try it. He's not necessarily better than other lap-style slide performers of traditional blues (although frequently, he really _is_ better); but there's really no one else like him.
So who will like this recording? Well if you've enjoyed his other work, you. Country blues purists may actually be put off by his style at first, but I think it'll grow on you in a hurry. For what it's worth, I have a friend whose favorite bands are Tool and Primus (although he's also a fan of Bela Fleck), and even he liked this one. For what it's worth, I like Tool and Primus, too, although I'm pretty omnivorous, musically.
Now more general comments. First of all, the sound quality on this CD is possibly the best recording of an acoustic guitar I've ever heard: the sound just shimmers. Second, is the singing. Kelly Joe Phelps has a voice like good scotch -- beautiful tone, expressive dynamic range and rough in all the right places, without sounding the least bit phony.
And then there's the guitar playing. It's hard to know what to say about this except that technically, Phelps probably doesn't have any peers in this genre. But it's not even the technique, which is stunning, but his taste: in 70+ minutes of music, there isn't so much as a single note out of place.
And that's pretty much where I get off from the useful dispassionate reviewer ride and begin to gush. "Lead Me On" is by far my favorite of Phelps' recordings (and I have and love them all), and one of my favorites in my 1000+ CD collection. There is not even a weak moment on the disk, let alone a weak song. There are standouts, of course: "I've Been Converted" gets me stomping along with KJP's feet every time, and "Marking Stone Blues" just plain kicks ass. But every single track is wonderful.
This is as close to a perfect album as any I know."
Take me Lord, I'm ready now . . .
Luke Chaput | 02/21/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the most profound blues experiences possible. One smoky voiced man playing a fretless slide six string on his lap, stomping on a box . . . beautiful -- ready to go to God."