A horrible hack

Joel R.L. Phelps & The Downer Trio


Year Released: 2013
Format: CD
Label: Damnably - 12XU - Triple Crown Audio
Reviewed by MH on Jan 10, 2014
Silkworm is a band I had always meant to check out but somehow I never quite got around to it. A couple of apathetic decades later and this lands in the review pile. Joel R.L. Phelps was the frontman of Silkworm and it's been quiet on the Downer Trio side of things for a decade or so since they released an LP called "Customs". This is my first foray into listening to his current band and the members of The Downer Trio appear to also have a bit of pedigree going by the info in the biography that was sent in with the CD. They deal in alt rock with hints of grunge and there is some nice variation between slow and mid-pace, and also threadbare tracks which bring the misery. The first one of these came in early at track three ("So You've Decided") and stopped me in my tracks - it's crushingly sad and an absolute corker - utterly bleak lyrics too. Fantastic song. "Gala" also starts strongly with "The Nashville Sound" and the darker "The Great Falls" with its Belinda Carlisle-ism (you'll see what I mean on listening). The overall feel of the album is one of underlying darkness and initial listens don't tell the full story as I didn't quite grasp that until i had revisited this a couple of times. Lyrical topics include loss, poverty and redemption and it's all quite personal. There is something about Phelps' droney vocals that really draws me in.

I have enjoyed this, particularly the first half of the album. Maybe I should finally take the plunge and check out Silkworm too.

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