Kelly Joe Phelps

To say that Kelly Joe Phelps’ fourth CD fulfills the promise of his previous work would be an understatement. On his previous discs, particularly 1999’s incredible Shine Eyed Mister Zen, Phelps worked toward rising out of the morass of blues “interpreters.” Here, Phelps continues to craft increasingly complex and textured original songs. While his first three releases center on vocal and slide guitar arrangements, this disc breaks that mold by presenting Phelps with a band—Larry Taylor (Tom Waits) on string bass, Billy Conway (Morphine) on drums. Phelps plays nothing but finger-picked guitar here; no slide work can be found anywhere—a gutsy move for a player widely considered one of the best slide men of this, or any other, generation. Sky Like a Broken Clock is the best album of the year and Kelly Joe Phelps will be remembered as one of the great songwriters of this decade, or any other.