Joe Bonamassa teams up with his perennial producer Kevin Shirley and drops on us Blues of Desperation which is another simply superb album to add to his impressive resume. Dare we say it might be his best to date? What an excellent year it is shaping up to be with the plethora of excellent blues rock releases thus far and it is only March. Both the blues purist and the hardcore rock fan can appreciate this blues album. There’s something here for everyone.
Recorded in just five days in Nashville, Joe serves up 11 original tracks filled with his guitar mastery, backed by the dual drummers, Anton Fig and Greg Morrow, bassist Michael Rhodes, keyboardist Reese Wynans, horn players Lee Thornburg, Paulie Cerra and Mark Douthit, and background singers Mahalia Barnes, Jade McRae and Juanita Tippins. There is not a throw away track on this release. They are all great albeit in slightly different ways.
Recorded primarily as power quartet with dual drummers there is no lack of rock driven swagger. Joe seals the deal right out of the station opening things up with some excellent slide guitar work over the chugging rhythm of “This Train.” Things take a decidedly more intense turn with the hard riff of “Mountain Climbing” where Joe delivers a scorcher of a solo. This should quickly become a mainstay of his live shows like previous hits “Sloe Gin” and “The Ballad of John Henry.” Title track “Blues of Desperation, along with “How Deep This River Runs” and “Distant Lonesome Train” provides even more of this excellent heavy ended rhythm section for Joe to stretch out over. “You Left Me Nothing but the Bill and The Blues” is a foot stomper that should have festival goers out of their seats when they aren’t staring in wonder at Joe’s two separate solos.
“No Good Place For The Lonely” is a heavy slow blues that incorporates some orchestral strings that would have been better off handled by Reese Wynans’ Hammond organ. Regardless, Joe creates a distorted sliding riff that creates the undertow for this song that will suck you in. The first single off this is “Drive” with it is laid back groove it leads the collection of tracks that are an effective contrast to the hard edge of rest of the album. Another contrasting number is the acoustic and soulful “Valley Runs Low.” “Livin’ Easy” evokes a walk down Maxwell Street with its Chicago style piano, horns and acoustic groove. Ending this ride is the slow horn laden blues “What I’ve Known For A Very Long Time.”
With Blues of Desperation, Joe delivers more of his trademark sound with some surprises while pushing the envelope of what the blues in this modern age can be.
The Review: 9.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Mountain Climbing
– Blues of Desperation
– The Valley Runs Low
– What I’ve Known For A Very Long Time
The Big Hit
– Mountain Climbing
Review by Kevin O’Rourke
Buy the album: Amazon