“The Blues Album shows why Joanne Shaw Taylor is one of the most respected names in modern blues guitar.” Guitar.com
Joanne Shaw Taylor The Blues Album, KTBA
Joanne Shaw Taylor said that, after the 2020 Covid restrictions, “I just wanted to come to Nashville, stay at me best mate’s house and play a bunch of blues songs with a band that I like and have fun doing it.”
And that’s precisely what you’ll hear when you listen to her seventh full-length studio album The Blues Album. Eleven covers of rare blues classics from the likes of Albert King, Peter Green, Little Richard, Magic Sam, Aretha Franklin, and Little Milton are performed with considerable aplomb by Taylor and a world-class band, exuding joy, emotion, and blues feeling in spades.
Taylor’s incredible guitar chops are well in evidence, but it is perhaps her singing that stands out on this album. At turns intensive, gritty, raw and husky, she makes these songs her own, grabbing your attention, and wresting every ounce of emotion out of the music.
The album features blues rock guitar virtuoso, singer-songwriter and producer, Josh Smith. Reese Wynans (keyboards), Greg Morrow (drums), Steve Mackey(bass), Steve Patrick (trumpet), Mark Douthit (sax), and Barry Green (trombone). Joe Bonamassa plays guitar and sings on the track Don’t Go Away Mad while Mike Farris joins as a special guest on I Don’t Know What You’ve Got.
The album, on Joe Bonamassa’s KTBA label was produced by Bonamassa and Josh Smith and recorded Ocean Way Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. Taylor and Bonamassa have been friends and fans of each other’s music for many years. Taylor said, “He was already acting as a mentor as well as an unofficial producer on The Blues Album, so I asked him if he’d fancy the job, officially,” says Joanne. “Thankfully, he accepted. The Blues Album has been everything I hoped it would be. It’s been a labour of love, overseen by an artist, producer and friend who I trust beyond measure.”
The album kicks off with Peter Green’s Stop Messin’ Around, originally recorded by Fleetwood Mac in 1968. It’s utterly infectious and exciting, a completely fabulous way to start the record.
The horns kick in on the next song, Little Milton’s somewhat comical If That Ain’t A Reason, giving it a wonderfully full sound. Taylor’s vocals soar again and are more than a match for the full band sound. The more jazzy Keep On Lovin’ Me (Magic Sam) follows and when the guitar solo kicks in you realize what an incredible guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor is, if you didn’t already realize. Her guitar playing over the years has seen saw her build an army of fans and plaudits from the likes of Jimmy Cliff, Stevie Wonder and Annie Lennox, as well as Joe Bonamassa. The woman is still only in her 30’s – how much better can she get?
Don’t Go Away Mad changes the mood a bit from the classic blues sound of the rest of the album. But it’s a very catchy number, originally recorded in 1991 by the supergroup Little Village which included Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe, Jim Keltner and John Hiatt. Taylor and Bonamassa duet on the song to great effect.
There’s an Albert King song, Can’t You See What You’re Doing to Me, originally released by Stax Records in 1970. Taylor attacks it fearlessly, vocals and guitar more than doing the song justice.
Two Time My Lovin’ rocks along gently compared with some of the incendiary material on the album, but it’s delightful toe-tapping stuff, while the final song, Three Time Loser, is a cheerful upbeat number which belies the downbeat lyrics.
Together these eleven songs make for a coherent whole, tied together by group of supremely talented musicians and Joanne Shaw Taylor’s blues-drenched voice and guitar. Joe Bonamassa said of the album that “it’s all about making a statement and having the listener want to play the music repeatedly.”
Joanne Shaw Taylor has made that statement loud and clear with The Blues Album, and take it from me, it’s an album you will want to play repeatedly.
- Stop Messin’ Round
- If That Ain’t A Reason
- Keep on Lovin’ Me
- If You Gotta Make A Fool of Somebody
- Don’t Go Away Mad (feat. Joe Bonamassa)
- Scraps Vignette
- Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me
- Let Me Down Easy
- Two Time My Lovin’
- I Don’t Know What You’ve Got (feat. Mike Farris)
- Three Time Loser
The Making Of The Blues Album: Part #1
The Making Of The Blues Album: Part #2