Donate Now to Support KDHX

Listen Live
Tuesday, 14 August 2012 06:00

Hear and Now: Stream the new album 'Brother Sinner & the Whale' by Kelly Joe Phelps

Hear and Now: Stream the new album 'Brother Sinner & the Whale' by Kelly Joe Phelps kellyjoephelps.net / Kent Kallberg
Written by Roy Kasten
Rate this item
(5 votes)

Audio for this feature is no longer available. Browse all Hear and Now features.

Gospel music has always been central to the fiercely-original blues of Kelly Joe Phelps. "Brother Sinner & the Whale," however, is his most spiritual album yet.

Admirers of Phelps revere his music for his unvarnished growl, his artistic risk taking (see the radical reworking of blues, folk and rock on "Sky Like a Broken Clock") and his singular approach to the acoustic lap-slide guitar. But for his first album in three years, Phelps repositions himself and his guitar, taking up the more familiar bottleneck slide and revealing his skillful Mississippi John Hurt-styled finger-picking.

"Brother Sinner & the Whale" is profoundly traditional, conservative and Christian even, but not in an ideological sense. Phelps is conserving the roots of gospel, the actual beliefs that motivate the best of the music and the message. He's making music and writing songs that express the deep human fellowship and humility that is (or was) the core value of Christian teaching. All of the songs, save the old standard "I've Been Converted," are original, but they draw directly from biblical sources and from the deathless gospel music of Blind Willie Johnson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and the Louvin and Monroe Brothers. Because Phelps is a musician first and a born-again sinner second, the album never comes off as preachy; Phelps' gospel is always deeply felt.

For a secular audience, even one familiar with Phelps' longstanding connection to the holy blues, his turn towards these biblical sources may be disconcerting. And yet, when delivered in that gravel-wrapped-in-silk voice and driven by his expressive guitar playing, the images can resonate across divides. Sometimes his lyrics are literal and direct, as on "Hope in the Lord to Provide," and just as often they're personal and difficult. On "Sometimes a Drifter" he meditates on both the smallness and the vastness of a single life, of one man's work, and on the devastating "Down to the Praying Ground" he just lays bare everything that haunts him and turns to a power he can't hope to understand. That power is wholly a mystery; it can't be explained, but it can be sung.

"Brother Sinner & the Whale" will be released on August 21, 2012 on Black Hen Music.

Upcoming Concerts

Sponsor Message

Become a Sponsor

Find KDHX Online

KDHX on Instagram
KDHX on YouTube
KDHX on SoundCloud
KDHX on Facebook
KDHX on Twitter
KDHX on flickr

Local Artist Spotlight


The Driftaways

Mon July 28
The Driftaways are a seven man reggae band hailing from St. Louis. Their E.P. Don't Hide is full of high energy jams and groovey improves that gives them a good time vibe. Download their song "Don't Hide"…

Dad Jr: Get Down. Hard.

Sun June 29

88.1 KDHX Shows

m-grill.jpg

KDHX Recommends

July
Thursday
31

Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys

Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys KDHX presents Bradford Lee Folk & The Bluegrass Playboys at The Stage, July 31 at 8pm. Tickets available online.   Born in Louisiana and raised in Missouri, Folk remembers watching his Dad pick the country blues on a...


August
Saturday
02

The Aching Hearts at Harvest Sessions 2014

The Aching Hearts at Harvest Sessions 2014 The Aching Hearts are the husband and wife duo of Ryan Spearman and Kelly Wells (host of Steam-Powered Radio on 88.1 KDHX), who recently released the CD "Just a Habit." Join them and KDHX for a morning of classic, old-time...


August
Wednesday
06

Discovery Series: Mandolin Orange

Discovery Series: Mandolin Orange KDHX presents Mandolin Orange as part of the Discovery Series on Wednesday August 6 at 7:30 p.m. The North Carolina-based duo combines bluegrass, rock and country, providing a modern take on age-old styles. Tickets available...


Online Users

3 users and 9038 guests online
Sign in with Facebook

SYSTEM: S5 Box

Login/My Account

Sign in with Facebook