February 2005

On his last couple of albums, Kelly Joe Phelps had moved from the solo work of his earlier efforts to fronting studio bands. On this first live album of his career, Phelps is back in a solo setting playing longer, extended versions of songs like "Jericho" and "Fleashine" from the band albums. As always, Phelps's guitar playing, rooted in the styles of the old blues masters and tempered with a jazz-like improvisatory imagination, hypnotically pulls the listener deeply into his often-impressionistic lyrics. Phelps also stretches out on long renditions of Skip James's "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues" and Reverend Gary Davis' "I Am the Light of the World" that demonstrate his deep-from-the-well understanding of traditional blues and gospel music. ****1/2