Standing amongst the greatest female performers of modern day, British blues rock phenom Joanne Shaw Taylor releases The Blues Album. Another exquisite production of blues masters Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, this album is being released through Bonamassa’s record label KTBA Records. It’s a cover album that focuses on non-obvious picked songs as well as on shining a light on Joanne’s vocals. In recent interviews, Joanne revealed, “I’d known from the beginning of my recording career that one day I wanted to record an album of blues covers, I just wasn’t sure when the right time to do that would be”. So probably this album is also a kind of fruit of her friendship with Bonamassa and at the same time a way to overcome the hurdles that hit all touring musicians with the pandemic.
Starting with an Albert King tune, “Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me” has a dubious facet. Even having a complete horn section that fills the harmony, the compassed bass still stands out in the background, laying down the rhythm for Joanne’s vocals and guitar. Little Village was an ephemerous band formed in early 1990 that included the legends John Hiatt and Ry Cooder. From them, Joanne picked the song “Don’t Go Away Mad”, sharing the vocals with Joe Bonamassa. At first glance, this song couldn’t be an actual blues, until you hear the guitar solos, probably also performed by both.
“I Don’t Know What You’ve Got” originally is a B-side ballad recorded by Little Richard. But in Joanne’s hands and vocals, alongside Mike Farris, it becomes a new version. Joanne once revealed that “If That Ain’t A Reason” was a Bonamassa suggestion that she decided to go through. An early funky blues success released by the Mississippian bluesman Little Milton, Joanne performed it with impressive vocals and a powerful guitar solo. Previously recorded by names like Ronnie Wood and Aretha Franklin, “If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody” is another good choice for the album. “Keep On Lovin’ Me” is a song by Otis Rush and Magic Sam that Joanne leverages the groove through her extremely emotive vocals and powerful guitar.
Slowing a little bit, “Let Me Down Easy” has its mood set by the fingered guitar chords and flawless horn lines. “Scraps Vignette” is an instrumental interlude where Joanne performs one of her unmistakable solos. “Stop Messin’ Round” and “Three Time Loser” feature amazing piano solos and probably the most powerful vocal performances by Joanne on the album. The closing song is The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ “Two Time My Lovin’”.
Intending to be a classic blues recording, The Blues Album checks a number of boxes that qualify it to be one of the top albums of 2021. Not only is it another exquisite Bonamassa & Smith production, but the album also showcases clean guitar tones, pianos, and horns performed by aces like themselves along with Reese Wynans (keyboards), Greg Morrow (drums), Steve Mackey (bass), Steve Patrick (trumpet), Mark Douthit (sax), Barry Green (trombone). For all this, there’s no doubt that Joanne picked not only the right time to do this album but all these incredible songs as well.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Don’t Go Away Mad feat. Joe Bonamassa
– If That Ain’t A Reason
– Keep On Lovin’ Me
– Stop Messin’ Round
– Three Time Loser
The Big Hit
– If That Ain’t A Reason