Inland Empires EP
Have you ever wondered what perfection sounds like? Well, on Inland
Empires, Joel RL Phelps and the Downer Trio have gotten about as close to it as Iíve
ever heard. For their first EP-length release on Moneyshot records, the band takes songs
from the catalogues of Christine McVie, Townes van Zandt, the Go-Betweens, Steve
Earle and Iris DeMent and centers them around a breath-taking tribute to Phelpís sister
who tragically took her own life in late 1999. (Now You Are Found [1961-1999])
Although not recorded with any master plan in mind, these songs somehow find a
cohesive form that makes it hard to separate the indivdual from the whole - giving us
one of the most achingly beautiful pieces one could hope to hear. Most impressive to my
ears is the way that Phelps et al find a way to make the music of others their own
without losing any of the drive and intensity inherent in the originals. This isnít a vanity
record of carbon copies or painfully lifeless three-chord strumming. Nothing quite
stands up to the sheer gut-wrenching beauty of Mr. Phelps artistry - thereís an intimacy
inherent in his music that takes you to a quiet place inside yourself that is too often
ignored in the age of the rap-metal phenomenon. Itís due soon for European release on a
new label, 12XU, coupled with some London
tour dates. A follow-up 12" is also in the works.
This record is so beautiful it hurts.
Itís the best $8 youíve ever spent in your life, and years from now, your grandkids will
(Inland Empires is available
from the Moneyshot Records website)
Written By: Kathleen L.