Kelly Joe Phelps - vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica
produced by Lee Townsend
at Phase 1 Studios (Toronto), The Factory (Vancouver, B.C.) and Flora
Engineers: Shawn Pierce and Tucker Martine
SLINGSHOT PROFESSIONALS REVIEWS
"Few songwriters can deftly weave separate similes involving Popeye, Olive Oyl and Sweet Pea into a single verse. Fewer still can make it sound deeply soulful. But such are the gifts that make Phelps such a remarkable artist. Besides his off-kilter lyrical expression, Phelps boasts a haunting vocal rasp and unmatched mastery of finger style and slide guitar. Together, these elements explore the deepest shades of blue, and they have never worked better than on this disc. Be it the melancholy waltz of "Not So Far To Go", or the shuffling blues of the title track, Phelps makes the sublime sound effortless. He enjoys spare, but detailed support throughout, notably from Jesse Zubot's plaintive violin and and some truly thrilling guitar cameos by Bill Frisell. This is music that rings with bittersweet experience." - Mojo (UK)
"Phelps' recent release, "Slingshot Professionals", is a tribute to his own evolution his style has an original darkness and depth. Here, it seems, is a singer/songwriter who's settled firmly into his own voice." - Asheville Mountain Xpress
makes the complex appear simple by allowing his songs to unfurl slowly,
flowing with confidence and unctuous rhythms. "Slingshot Professionals" is
draped in eloquence and humble introspection."
- Boston Herald
musical world is constantly evolving and 'Slingshot' stays true to
"Steeped in the spirit of the blues, Phelps' voice is rich and raw, with liberal doses of Nebraska Springsteen and even, occasionally, Tom Waits. Bongos and strings join the mix, giving it a drive and adding delicate accents. Instrumentally, the CD is full of such understated touches Frisell plays in such a way to draw just enough attention to his beautiful style while still keeping his ear trained on Phelps' skewed snapshots of characters. A subtle and engaging disc." - Harp
ace guitar player
a singer with an almost gothic, gravel and
velvet voice; and a songwriter whose literate, cliché-dodging
way with lyrics mixes art and grit in a distinctive way."
"It's not every guitar icon that turns away from the idolatry his mastery inspires For Kelly Joe Phelps, the evolution from venerated picker to respected singer-songwriter has been gradual and organic With "Slingshot Professionals", Phelps has thoroughly crossed over into the territory of Tom Waits and J.J. Cale, couching his sly songs in his fullest arrangements to date Phelps definitely hasn't dulled the guitar chops. But more than ever, his playing serves a larger purpose." - S.F.Gate.Com
is a remarkable acoustic guitarist who has assimilated so many disparate
influences - everyone from Chet Atkins and Leo Kottke to Mississippi
Fred McDowell and Ornette Coleman - that he escapes and even defies
categorization. He has also become an adroit lyricist. His new album,
'Slingshot Professionals', finds him engaging in the sort of knotty,
elliptical wordplay that is generally more the province of established
novelists than fellow songwriters. In that sense, Phelps has much in
common with Tom Waits and precious few others
This musical hunger
can be heard on 'Slingshot Professionals' on which Phelps plays in
a conversational and spontaneous way with two discrete small ensembles.
One features the renowned guitarist Bill Frisell, while the other is
built around a core of guitarist Phelps, fiddler and mandolinist Jesse
Zubot, and Weissenborn player Steve Dawson.
a testament to strong material, good chemistry and great musicians."
CRAFTED WITH A CARE
TROUBADOUR’S BEST YET
"And so, he continues to grow. Album number five, 'Slingshot Professionals' is a very wonderful thing. Richly acoustic tunes of poetic haunt and verse. Guitars, harmonica, piano, accordion, violin, mandolin and more. Luxuriant textures and variant hues, elegantly woven and softly spun. And that husky voice -- well worn, emoting good and getting better all the time. If at times he recalls 'Bop Until You Drop' -- era Ry Cooder – cut through with a shot of Beat and belt of Waits - still he is very much his own man. Indeed, he is memorably possessed of hose own fully formed, richly realised, yet still developing sound. As a guitar player Phelps typically eschews the showy in lieu of the subtle, and is all the more affecting for it. Increasingly, too, his words have taken on a rare, imagistic thrall all their own. On the new album, such crooked mystery, eloquently wrought, with snapshots and vignettes of ache and wonder and enigma hewn, he is a shadowy master of gnawing, crafted song." - Ross Fortune, Time Out
"Kelly Joe Phelps has been widening his musical vision of late, bringing on board an array of backing musicians to flesh out his immaculately picked-out folk blues. His fourth Rykodisc album continues this progression, with electric guitar from Bill Frisell, lightly brushed percussion from Scott Amendola, streaks of organ and accordian and additional vocals from Petra Haden, all tracking Phelps's mesmerising finger work. But for all its technical articulation, this mighty fine record feels as artless as an improvisation." - Metro