Down Beat - 12/97, p.924.5 stars (out of 5)
- "...Phelps connects emotionally with past country bluesmen Fred McDowell and Robert Pete Williams when mixing his mature, huskily intoned singing with his incisive, measured guitar picking and lap-steel sliding..."
JazzTimes - 12/97, p.144
"...Phelps goes pretty deep inside to come up with stuff this rare. It is highly personal, unpretentious and wholly affecting music."
Option - 11-12/97, p.110
"...one of the most consummate solo acoustic folk/blues discs in recent memory....a must for acoustic guitar freaks."
Solo performer: Kelly Joe Phelps (vocals, 6- & 12-string lap slide guitars, 6-string guitar).
Includes liner notes by Kelly Joe Phelps.
Personnel: Kelly Joe Phelps (vocals).
Liner Note Author: Kelly Joe Phelps.
Recording information: Northeast Portland (1996).
Phelps, a Washington State native who began as a jazz bassist, plays Delta-style country blues as well as anyone did in the '90s, but not just because so few did--he'd be a standout in the genre no matter the decade. ROLL AWAY THE STONE, only his second album, is startling in its deceptive simplicity. Playing acoustic lap-steel, six-string, and 12-string guitar, Phelps teases remarkable melodies out of the simplest notes. His songs are mostly originals, but they resonate like half-remembered Mississippi country-blues standards without sounding derivative in the least. From the full-bodied gospel moan of "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder" to the oblique, mysterious "Doxology," this is country blues at its finest.