Beyond the gripe and moan of the music industryfs 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. Itfs been a while Mr Phelps, itfs been a while! Too long. But then a fleeting, chance glance through Spotify brought forth eGalaf, 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 Phelpsf output, itfs hardly cheery listening. Dark being the new light, however, itfs every bit the antidote to The Voice, Britainfs 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 f3Œ and the rough, dry, suburban lo-fidelity garage rock of fBlackbirdf. For those less familiar, itfs a fine place to start your relationship.

Galaf 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!