10 February 2014 (released)
10 February 2014
Beyond the gripe and moan of the music industryfs death throws, Joel Phelps has made a few, if all too transient, appearances with The Downer Trio since the mid 90s.
Brief and intermittent though they have been, every re-emergence has brought with it a refreshing blast of relief. And then in the middle of the naughties (when the world needed him the most), the man seemed to disappear altogether. Itfs been a while Mr Phelps, itfs been a while! Too long. But then a fleeting, chance glance through Spotify brought forth eGalaf, a new gem of an album that has once again been the source of an unlikely spring in my step.
Unlikely in as much as, like most of Phelpsf output, itfs hardly cheery listening. Dark being the new light, however, itfs every bit the antidote to The Voice, Britainfs Got Talent, American Idol, The X Factor et al. Herein we have 13 sparse, haunting, driving, mournful songs punctuated by Phelps' ragged, overdriven Telecaster and frail, Stipe-esque vocals. For those familiar with the Phelps catalogue, the record sits somewhere between the resonant rural clatter of f3Œ and the rough, dry, suburban lo-fidelity garage rock of fBlackbirdf. For those less familiar, itfs a fine place to start your relationship.
Galaf is sorrowful, heartfelt and insular and superb. Everything you look for in a record by Joel R.L Phelps. His voice is a little deeper, a little softer and a little older, but he's back people!