Search - Kelly Joe Phelps :: Western Bell

Western Bell
Kelly Joe Phelps
Western Bell
Genres: Blues, Pop
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

Kelly Joe Phelps returns with Western Bell, his eighth full-length album and first all instrumental record. All songs feature solo performances recorded live in studio. Phelps performs on 6 and 12- string guitars, and mak...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Kelly Joe Phelps
Title: Western Bell
Members Wishing: 3
Total Copies: 0
Label: Black Hen Music
Original Release Date: 1/1/2009
Re-Release Date: 3/17/2009
Genres: Blues, Pop
Styles: Contemporary Blues, Acoustic Blues, Modern Blues
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 775020927629, 0775020927629


Product Description
Kelly Joe Phelps returns with Western Bell, his eighth full-length album and first all instrumental record. All songs feature solo performances recorded live in studio. Phelps performs on 6 and 12- string guitars, and makes a long-anticipated return to lap-slide guitar. Long-hailed for his virtuosic and courageous playing, these eleven instrumentals for solo guitar are an intimate look at Phelps' inner creative and emotional world. The vast majority of the numbers are improvised on the spot and Phelps seems to deconstruct the very instrument that's carried him around the world. Playing mostly in odd tunings only the most basic elements of a 'guitar piece' remain - vibrato, the occasional alternating thumb, and the clack of a bar on a steel string. The shining black center of Western Bell is Phelps himself, sifting through the engrained muscle memory of years of playing, the record collection, the poems, women, other on-ramps. Incredibly personal, these ruminations reflect a soul busy coming to terms with its scope and parameters, past & future.

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CD Reviews

Here we go again!!
JOHNEC | Jamestown, ND USA | 03/24/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)

"To start off I am a Real KJP fan and I expect him to throw some musicals curveballs. (and he has) I approached this recording with caution. An entire CD of solo improvised music. Daring?--not if you have seen him in concert and have been amazed at his ability to improvise both the guitar and vocal AT THE SAME TIME but...this is risky. No vocals,unfailiar sounds, and less reliance on familiar forms to improvise within. After basically a singer-songwriters album for his last outing, in spite of my familiarity with all forms of his music to date,the CD advertised accurately,--- I did not expect this. Nothing else like it in his catalog. I will continue replay this CD as I have with some of his past efforts that I did not appreciate on first listen. Why? KJP is a musical genius and he has taken me places that others have not but... is this art or self-indulgence (or are they the same thing?)"
Wordless Confessions
D.A.W. | West Tisbury | 07/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Like others, I've been a KJP fan from the start, own all his albums, and have learned to trust him when he throws you a curveball. After several more recent excursions into larger-ensemble music, here he is all alone in a studio (apparently literally alone, since he's listed as the engineer as well). You couldn't get more intimate.

This album feels like a tour of Kelly Joe Phelps's private laboratory, in his head, with his mind-guitar. Some of the sounds are strange, yes, but somehow appropriate to the melancholy tinge that infuses just about everything KJP does. I'd recommend this CD highly to the kind of open-minded person who already enjoys Tin Hat (Trio) or Rachel's.

No, it's not dinner music or easy listening. To enjoy Western Bell, imagine that you are pulled over for speeding down a back-country road in some Red State, and thrown in jail, and your cellmate is none other than Kelly Joe. On your third day of incarceration, after KJP has already told you all the stories of his crazy relatives and the people he's met over the years (in earlier albums it feels like he's doing this), he finally falls silent and just plays his guitar quietly in the corner. And from his fingers, between these old rusty strings, come more portraits of crazy aunts and suicidal cousins, maybe people in your own family. That's what this album feels like: a wordless confession that makes you want to hang on every word."
John Smith | Seattle, Wa | 03/30/2009
(2 out of 5 stars)

"Like the other reviewer, I am a big Kelly Joe Phelps fan. I own every album and see him in concert whenever he is in town, but this collection of music is strange to say the least. He is one of the most talented guitar players ever, but I also see him as someone who never wants to be labeled as any one thing, a great virtue to gold on to, but I think that it can lead to some less than desirable outcomes. Like the other reviewer, I will listen to this some more simply because I know how talented the man is, but after the first several spins (and a fair amount of pondering), I am not sold on this's a little out there for my liking."