The rockin’ leader of the Oklahoma based DocFell & Co., Dr. John Fell hears it all the time from fans in and around his home base and beyond: you heal bodies by day and souls at night. And with the release of their fourth full length album, Revelations, their mission continues.
Nearly ten years, three albums and countless singles after forming the band in Tahlequah, Doc, his longtime lead guitarist and producer Kyle Brown and their high energy collective are still finding clever and engaging new ways to fuse elements of traditional country, hillbilly, bluegrass, Americana, red dirt, folk, gospel funk and grunge. The title of their latest album Revelations captures not only the rebellious spirit Doc shares on raw and raucous autobiographical tunes like “John the ex-Baptist,” but also his developing depth as a storyteller and insightful musical philosopher.
The title of the album is based on the idea that the songs are basically mini-sermons. All were penned by Doc, with major co-writing credits to Jordan Cox on the soulful rocker “Boxes,” the rollin’ and rollicking “Borrowed Time” and the soaring funk/rocker “Falling Stars” – a thoughtful tune that wonders if the collective “we,” no matter our individual aspirations, are just chasing the same unattainable dreams.
After heading down to Wimberley, TX (just south of Austin) to record their 2018 album Heaven, Hell or Oklahoma at Yellow Dog Studios, DocFell an Co. return to the friendly confines of the infamous audio cauldron known at Monotone Studios (where they’ve held court since their 2014 debut Scissor Tail) for the new album. Kyle was free to experiment a bit with grunge and he brought in guest steel guitarist Hank Early and fiddler player Kyle Nix. Other guests include Thomas Trapp on acoustic guitar and Cox on accordion and harmonica. The permanent lineup features drummer Brad Rice and bassist John Barker.
“It was great being back at our home base,” Doc says, “and it’s our most hands-on band album to date, where we did more of the production ourselves. While our previous release was somewhat of a concept album reflecting on concepts about the afterlife, this is more of a snapshot album reflecting my thoughts about different aspects of life. I think it’s a great representation of how we’re sounding these days, and I’m particularly proud of how it shows my evolution as a songwriter. When you first start out, you kind of don’t know just what you’re doing, so you use generic imagery to tell stories. But over time I’ve realized the importance of digging deeper to express myself. I think working with old friends like Kyle and newer friends who are now band members gives me a beautiful comfort zone where I feel free to express these deeper truths.”
Other highlights from the eleven track Revelations that showcase DocFell & Co.’s stylistic range include the booming, classic style country rocker “Fragile,” a hard hitting commentary on the reality that “We’re all fragile, we’re all faded, we’re all tattered, we’re all torn” and “rough around the edges but we’re solid to the core.” It evolves into an anthem like tune where we can proudly affirm “We’re all in this fight together no matter who we’re fighting for.” On the gentler edge of things is the bouncy, lyrical ukulele driven closer “Silly Little Song,” which finds Doc in a lighthearted, romantic Jack Johnson mode.
“When you’re an indie band, it’s often easy to get discouraged, so it’s important to define what success means to you,” Doc says. “For us, we take the same philosophy whether we’re playing for thousands at a festival or to a bar that’s half packed or only has a few people by the end of the night. We ask ourselves, Was it a fun gig? Did we have a good time? Did we touch people and maybe inspire those who heard us in some way? There are no small crowds, only small performances. No matter the circumstance, we go out and give them our all.”
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