Joel Phelps

Inland Empires

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Joel Phelps, the languid singer/songwriter, formerly of Silkworm, knows how to deliver a soulful tune. With a voice that can morph from a delicate whisper into a countrified warble, he is capable of performing almost anyone's songs beautifully. Inland Empires shines with a series of respectfully original covers. Besides a tribute to his sister, the songwriting here is all other artists' material, but Phelps, with the help of the Downer Trio, does well to make each song his own. "Our Mother the Mountain," a Townes Van Zandt ditty, sounds better than the original. Other covers of Steve Earle, Iris Dement, and Fleetwood Mac show that Phelps is a man with almost gospel-like soul.

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