Shine Eyed Mister Zen

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Shine Eyed Mister Zen
Shine Eyed Mister Zen.jpg
Studio album by Kelly Joe Phelps
Released July 13, 1999
Recorded The Barley Cap, Portland, Oregon
Genre Blues, country blues
Length 57:47
Label Rykodisc
Producer Kelly Joe Phelps
Kelly Joe Phelps chronology
Roll Away the Stone
Shine Eyed Mister Zen
Sky Like a Broken Clock

Shine Eyed Mister Zen is the third album by American blues artist Kelly Joe Phelps, released in 1999.

Shine Eyed Mister Zen was recorded at Phelps' home with all the tracks recorded in single takes. The title relates to Phelps' own description of his way of playing.[1]


Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars [2]
Freight Train Boogie 4/5 stars [3]
The Graham Weekly Album Review (favorable) [4]
No Depression (favorable) [5]

Writing for Allmusic, music critic Michael Gallucci called the album "an accomplished serving of country blues that combines the sweet and sour power of his guitar playing with the equally bittersweet charge of Phelps' wearied voice... A mystical and unaffected recording."[2] Jim Merkel of No Depression magazine wrote "Phelps’ songwriting also deserves notice. One would be hard-pressed to tell the originals interspersed among the traditional blues tunes here without looking at the credits. He also can take an old warhorse such as “Goodnight Irene” and strip away its tired reputation to reveal its underlying sense of quiet defeatism... Although subtle and compact, his playing never sacrifices fiery tension."[5] While praising the album, George Graham wrote "Sonically this album is respectable but could be improved upon. It's a bit odd in stereo, with the vocals slightly off to the left and the guitar tending toward the right, instead of having the guitar miked in stereo to give it some depth. The guitar sound, though pleasing, could have been a bit richer and warmer. The dynamic range is decent, though some compression was applied which is audible in spots detracting from the subtleties of this all-acoustic performance."[4] Bill Frater of Freight Train Boogie wrote "This is peerless music that one hears with one's soul as much as with one's ears."[3]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Kelly Joe Phelps except as noted.

  1. "The House Carpenter" (Traditional) – 6:43
  2. "River Rat Jimmy" – 3:32
  3. "Hobo's Son" – 4:07
  4. "Katy" – 6:13
  5. "Wandering Away" – 5:05
  6. "Dock Boggs Country Blues" (Traditional) – 6:23
  7. "Capman Bootman" – 4:55
  8. "Train Carried My Girl from Town" (Traditional) – 4:25
  9. "Piece by Piece" – 6:30
  10. "Many a Time" – 4:15
  11. "Goodnight Irene" (Lead Belly, Alan Lomax) – 5:39


  • Kelly Joe Phelps - vocals, guitar
  • Dave Mathis – harmonica on "Piece By Piece"


  • Engineered and mixed by Riley Wilson
  • Mastered by Toby Mountain, Northeastern Digital Recording, Southborough, MA


  1. ^ Guitarist Magazine, Jon Jordan, September, 1999
  2. ^ a b Gallucci, Michael. "Shine Eyed Mister Zen > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved June 15, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Frater, Bill. "Shine Eyed Mister Zen > Review". Freight Train Boogie. Retrieved June 15, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Graham, George. "Shine Eyed Mister Zen > Review". Freight Train Boogie. Retrieved June 15, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Markel, Jim. "Shine Eyed Mister Zen > Review". No Depression. Retrieved June 15, 2011. 

External links[edit]