POP MATTERS
March 16, 2009

WESTERN BELL

In a world adequately full of praise for the likes of Leo Kottke and John Fahey, surely there is room for Washington’s Kelly Joe Phelps. His eighth album of solo acoustic guitar improvisation should be enough to land him status in the company of legends, if he isn’t there already. Granted, it’s a pretty small scene for this kind of music, and one I am admittedly not really a part of, yet there is something undeniably moving about Western Bell. Through all of the weird tunings and rambling melodies, when a listener resigns him or herself to intently listening to Kelly’s lone guitar, fighting back the darkness one plunk at a time, an odd sort of poetry arises. Like a hero of the high plains, roaming nameless to wherever God deems his services necessary, Phelps speaks directly to your soul. If that isn’t the stuff of legends, I don’t know what is.

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