SUNDAY TIMES (UK newspaper)
July 1, 2001

If you have ever seen blues-folk troubadour Kelly Joe Phelps play live, you will know how mesmerising his lap-based guitar playing can be. Those mercurial fingers conjure the mystifying illusion of two or three sidemen. A jazz player in days gone by - his passion for Coltrane knew no bounds - he is no broken-down, back-porch strummer. After all the solo tours, Sky Like A Broken Clock represents a surprise change of direction, Phelps surrounding himself with like-minded musicians including Tom Waits's cohort Larry Taylor. Don't worry: the poetic vision has not been swamped by the combined force of feedback and backbeat. Recorded in just a few days, the collection of originals prove as airy and evocative as anything he has done before. Phelps's smoky growl is a remarkable instrument in its own right, even if it does not always do full justice to the intricate flow of the lyrics: these are no 12-bar chants. The melodies, sinuous and teasing, take us on a dusty journey across the heartlands.