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    [ Joel RL Phelps and the Downer Trio ]


    Inland Empires EP

    (Moneyshot Records)

    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 thank you.
    Miss Diva

    (Inland Empires is available from the Moneyshot Records website)

    Written By: Kathleen L.