Kelly’s Lot is an L.A.-based blues-rock band founded and fronted by Kelly Zirbes. Their most recent release, Plain Simple Me, is an acoustic-based release well worth a listen. The ten track album includes all the usual suspects and then some.
Zirbes takes the lead on guitar and vocals. She is backed by Perry Robertson on guitar, Matt McFadden on bass and Scotty Lund on drums and percussion. Other artists also assist in some tracks and all songs are originals.
The album opener is “Soften Me Up”. It’s a catchy cut with an upbeat rhythm. It’s also laced with some good, old school blues-influenced guitar work.
The second selection is “Restless”. This one has a darker mood to it but it remains distinctive due in part to the addition of other artists as Zirbes introduces Aubrey Richmond on violin and Nate Light on stand-up bass here. It’s followed by “This Town” which is highlighted by Robertson on guitar.
The titular tune, “Plain Simple Me”, is a nice, personal, folk-tinged track. Robertson and Lund’s talents are surprisingly not missed on this quieter cut as Richmond returns on violin to fill the void. The shortest song, “Let’s Go To Love”, stands on its own despite its brevity due in part to Galen Shostac on generally unobtrusive keys.
The tribute track “28” includes Richmond remaining on violin with a nice guitar solo bridge. The next number, “Lost And Found”, includes one last contribution by Richmond on this heartfelt albeit sad song. Loss is an old yet universal theme.
“I’ll Go (A Soldier’s Oath)” is a somewhat patriotic piece that while almost melodramatic at different moments refuses to be too political and is therefore more effective. This song features no “heroic” figure wrapped in a flag. Instead it simply focuses on a man who signed on the dotted line and is now standing up to his part of the agreement. “I’ll go” he says as he is backed by some great electric guitar by Rob Zucca.
“Better Way” follows and is the first of two tracks on which Zirbes, the main songwriter here, collaborates with Robertson. The message here is that life going on despite heartache and pain. Lund’s percussive talents are set aside here but as Paul McCartney once said before the Beatles had a reliable drummer: “The rhythm’s in the guitars, man.” (Some fans might notice that this is a remake of a bluesier, electric version on their 2011 disc Live In Brussels.)
The closing cut is the final Zirbes-Robertson co-composition, the rockin’ “Runnin’”. It’s got a bit of blues and even funk mixed in which makes it all the more enjoyable. It features Elizabeth Hangan on backing vocals.
A bonus track, “Broken Man”, is also included. It’s off the 1998 album Test Drive and was more recently used in the soundtrack of the feature film Compound Fracture. It’s a nice touch to a release that although largely acoustic still retains Zirbes consistent vocals and blues-injected attitude. All in all, Plain Simple Me proves that Kelly’s Lot is off and “Runnin’”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.