It has been a long time since there was a blues album with so many tracks in high beats per measure and this brings a remarkably good mood to Sonic Departures, the tenth studio album of the Canadian blues guitarist and singer JW-Jones. In part, it’s also highlighted by the complete horn section with 13-pieces, bringing the Big Band’s body and soul to the tracks.
Sonic Departures was almost entirely recorded in 2019, except for the vocals, that were rerecorded in the JW’s house in the midst of the pandemic. Originally, the album was to be released as an EP, but considering COVID, JW decided to include other songs. The album’s post-production was made entirely on distance, with JW exchanging samples of mixes with his producer Eric Eggleston.
In total, the album has nine tracks, including three original songs released by JW in his previous albums and six cover tracks previously released by Albert King and Guitar Slim, among others. The first track, “Blue Jean Jacket”, is a nice blues rock track with an epic solo. “Same Mistakes” keeps the same vibe, but including guitar lines that literally go with the lead vocals and horns. “Ain’t Gonna Beg” is a JW song where the horn section definitely gives another excellent perspective. Further, the guitar solos show all SRV’s influence on JW’s approach. In “Drowning On Dry Land” the high point is the multiple voices on the solo, where guitar, trumpet, saxophone, and clarinet talk to each other.
“Bye Bye Love” is a song first recorded in the ’50s, but on this album, it”s given vocal harmonies and detached piano lines. “Snatchin’ It Back” is another song that brings the Big Band’s soul right in front of the sound speaker. “It’s Obdacious” originally was recorded by Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra, but in Sonic Departures it received a super cool saxophone solo and amazing piano lines. Listen to “The Things That I Used To Do” possibly got you wondering about pulling a girl for a dance. It’s a Guitar Slim song also recorded by SRV, and it’s where JW shows all his ability on the guitar. “When It All Comes Down”, originally released by BB King, is a song with more detached keys and clean guitar lines.
Sonic Departures is an album that definitely marks the Big Band’s return to the blues scene. The nice mood of the songs, selected horns insertions, perfect guitar tones (that perfectly match with the horns), clean harmony, and vocals, all make this album a bright light among the blues albums released in 2020. With Sonic Departures, there’s no doubt that JW-Jones has achieved his main goal of exchanging isolation to inspiration.
The Review: 8/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Blue Jean Jacket
– Ain’t Gonna Beg
– Bye Bye Love
– When It All Comes Down
The Big Hit
– Blue Jean Jacket