Joe Bonamassa: Redemption Review

Joe Bonamassa is known as a blues guitar hero, but the pleasant surprises of Redemption, his latest album, are his songwriting and vocals. Bonamassa is prolific. Redemption is 13th solo studio album. That’s not counting the live albums or his work with his Black Country Communion side project, nor his work with singer Beth Hart. The challenge of generating that much music is finding something new to say, while still holding on to your core sound.

Redemption is full of angles and takes that keep things interesting—for the listener and for Bonamassa. For instance, Bonamassa explores some 1980s rock sounds on a few tracks. It’s reminiscent of his work with the aforementioned Black Country Communion, a supergroup made up of British rock legend Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple and Black Sabbath), drummer Jason Bonham, and metal keyboardist Derek Sherinian. “Deep in the Blues Again” has an unusual ’80s rock vibe, that’s also kind of country. It features a cool-and-weird spacey guitar riff, and background vocals that all conspire to give the song a theatrical flair. The result is essentially a Who track. “Redemption” is a power ballad with Western touches a la Bon Jovi’s “Dead or Alive.” The track is dramatic and catchy, though.

Bonamassa seems to understand his fan base also wants a fair amount of blues guitar and he delivers. “Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should” is pure blues rock right out of the Stevie Ray Vaughan playbook. Bonamassa throws in a flashy solo, but his playing, as well as his vocals, have a lot of soul. He’s not phoning in this performance. There are also tracks like “King Bee Shakedown,” which sounds like the Doors’ “L.A. Woman” as performed by the Brian Setzer Orchestra. The track, which, like many of the songs on the album features a solid horn section, swings in a jazzy-yet-rockabilly way. But there’s a darkness to Bonamassa’s vocals that give the song—all of the album’s songs, really—a sense of danger.

The album’s most interesting track is “Self-Inflicted Wounds,” whose title pretty much says it all in terms of the song’s subject matter and tenor. It’s a sweet, slow ballad that’s actually a little grunge-y. The guitar solo is slow and intense, and even features harmony guitars. It doesn’t sound like what you might expect from Bonamassa, but at the same time, it sure does sound like him.

The interesting thing about Bonamassa’s volume of output is that it has allowed him to internalize blues rock. So even as he expands his songwriting, moving in a more mainstream rock direction, blues rock is still hard-wired into his playing. That’s a good thing, because he’s a talented blues guitarist. But it’s also nice hearing him continuously trying to expand his comfort zone.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should
– Redemption
– Ghost of Macon Jones
– King Bee Shakedown
– Self-Inflicted Wounds

The Big Hit

– Self-Inflicted Wounds

Review by Steven Ovadia

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

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5 Responses to “Joe Bonamassa: Redemption Review”

  1. jeff doster says:

    i ordered this c/d over 2 months ago i still do not have it PLEASE send it
    thank you
    jeff doster

  2. Ce que j’attendais de Joe est arrivé !!! Un album qui me transporte la où il n’y que cette magie.. cette écriture mystérieuse, voir étrange qui sème en vous une curiosité mise a l’épreuve du sons, de la voix, des accords de guitares, un véritable cocktail, a dégusté sans modération…..😊🎸🎤💕merci Joe pour ce voyage dans cette révélation et rédemption !
    Jajaboop. De Belgique

  3. Dr Prozac says:

    8,5 only? shame! 😉

  4. Michael T. Montgomery says:

    This album entitled Redemption is absolutely outstanding.

    This is one of the best guitar ballad albums I have listened to in years.

    I could swear I was listening to a young B. B. King in ‘Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should’.
    The `Redemption’ track is utterly mezmerizing! I am not kidding. Joe’s guitar playing is crisp, clean and elegant (watch the companion videos if you don’t believe me), but with punch and heartfelt emotion. His vocals are fantastic (see above). Easy to visualize while listening. His band is terrific, especially his bass player.

    In summary: The Bonamassa blues guitar-man expands his range and explores new sounds and vocals that are tantalizing to listen to with the volume turned way UP in the late evening or while exercising. You’ll feel like dancing and swinging with your partner while listening to this great music. Try it.

    PS: I have been playing this album over and over again today after receiving it. I must say that I can’t get enough of Joe’s great licks and crisp playing. Absolutely stunning. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to hear this great guitarist, and emerging vocalist, and his excellent band!

    Congratulations on a job well done.

    Please give us more of this sound, Joe!!

    Please also come play in Carmel California, 93923.
    I will come hear you and bring all of my friends.

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