Drew Phelps

'Round to It

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For this debut disk, Phelps selected a play list of his own songs, except for Hank Williams' classic "I'm So Lonesome, I Could Cry." Several of Phelps' tunes were composed more than ten years ago. But he wasn't encouraged to record them until he locked up with the members of his current band, pianist Brad Williams, drummer Woody Berner, and guitarist Richard McLure. Presumably the title of the album Round to It celebrates the ending of the hiatus. Despite the fact that there are eight tracks of Phelps' music, each tune seems to come from the same mold as the one that preceded and the one that follows, all played somewhere between medium and up-tempo. Williams engages in dazzling piano runs, McLure, playing an assortment of guitars, lays on heavy chords, with Phelps coming in somewhere in the middle with a Dave Holland sounding bass. This works for a while, but the music starts to be predictable. Tracks like "Mr. G" and "Recession" pretty much capture the essence of the set. "Mr. G" reveals Phelps' interest in bringing the rock beat and techniques to jazz. McLure is reluctant to let go of a chord he likes and persistently repeats it. Woody Berner's drumming is insistent and effusive throughout. The ringer is the Hank Williams melody. Brent Mitchell sings it with the familiar nasal Texan twang and does it well. But the guitar and piano are played in a decidedly non-Texan vogue, out of sync with Mitchell's vocalizing.

Given the sameness of its content, listeners may find it difficult to keep their attention on this CD, despite the obvious talent of the musicians.

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