Being completely in the moment is something I think any solo performer strives for, and this very artist excels in his “being in the momentness” (I know that is not a word, but I’d like to think we can make an exception in this case). Between beautifully played melodies, silky smooth vocals, and a musical knack for exploration Kelly Joe Phelps is the sole recipe holder for transporting the listener to another dimension. In particular the album “Tunesmith Retrofit” is the one that may very well be a gold medal example of Kelly Joe’s ability to make the listener completely transcend.
I absolutely adore this album. Kelly’s songwriting, his playing, and his knack for being in the moment shine through here. This is one of those albums that takes me back to a specific place… (on a red line train heading from Chicago’s loop to the Old Town School of Folk Music (located on the North side)…
My favorite track on “Tunesmith Retrofit” is: “Tight to the Jar,” the line …”Melody sweet ’til it rolls out the ear and the beer flows free as advice” always manages to gets me. That is only a small sample of the writing encapsulated on this album. In my opinion, as a listener you get the feeling the songs were written about your very own life… which is certainly a sign of a song writer with major skills to connect.
Kelly’s Fingerpicking is smooth and full of character, yet machine like in it’s regularity… and in a weird way it’s flexible enough to follow him on whatever path he happens to choose through the song.
Tunesmith Retrofit is a must have album in my opinion, and honestly, so are all of the albums in Kelly Joe’s Discography. Regardless of the album you are sure to encounter magically weaved lyrical threads that dance with the melody Kelly Joe so expertly coaxes out of his guitar.