Joanne Shaw Taylor
This tribute album sees Joanne Shaw Taylor embellishing classic Blues covers with her mentor, close friend and producer, Joe Bonamassa stretching her husky vocal interpretation and fluent guitar to new levels in recreating Blues classics from throughout the ages. 'The Blues Album' is a celebration of Joanne's voice as well as her outstanding guitar skills which may have out-shadowed her uninhibited and soulful singing until now.
Born on 20th February 1985 in her home country in Wednesbury, West Midlands, England, Joanne was brought up with a basic education in Solihull and was inspired to play the Blues in her early teens after hearing Jimi Hendrix, Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Being energised through these greats, Joanne started playing guitar delivering her unique sensory identity, and at the tender age of 16 she attracted the attention of Producer Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics fame). Stewart has played with all sorts of Blues musicians all over the world and was blown away with “a British white girl playing Blues guitar so deep and passionately, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end”.
Immediately invited by Dave to join his supergroup, nicknamed D.U.P., on a tour of Europe, Joanne's career in music was launched. Recognised by the music industry, she went on to release individual albums, whilst also being invited to join and play with Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Cliff and Stevie Wonder. She played lead guitar in Annie Lennox’s band at the Diamond Jubilee Concert in London in 2012, and also played an extended solo during that performance in front of Buckingham Palace, a show that was booked and attended by over 12,000 people. Blues music has always run deep in Shaw Taylor's soul and she embodies all of the elements of modern Blues whilst retaining her Britishness throughout.
Her stunning debut album, 'White Sugar' was released on Ruf Records in May 2009, and then her second release, 'Diamonds in the Dirt', with the same label in 2010, both of which climbed up to number eight in the US Billboard Top Blues Album Chart. In 2010 and 2011 she also won Best Female Vocalist at the British Blues Awards plus the Songwriter of the Year award for 'Same As It Never Was' from 'Diamonds in the Dirt'. She followed up the performance with the release of her third album, 'Almost Always Never'. The live album, 'Songs from the Road', appeared in 2013, followed by 'The Dirty Truth' the following year. Joanne returned in 2016 with her fifth album, 'Wild', which became her first album to chart in the UK Albums Chart, then released 'Reckless Heart' in 2019 on the rejuvenated Silvertone label which peaked at number four in the Blues Albums and number twenty in the UK Albums chart.
With musicians stopped from touring during 2020 and most of 2021 due to the pandemic, Joanne felt that this was the right time to dedicate herself to producing the album of Blues covers that she had always wanted to create since the beginning of her career. Mentioning the idea to Bonamassa and working with him to advise on the song choices that she'd like to reproduce, they created an 11 track playlist of rare Blues classics that would stretch Joanne's boundaries, enabling her to create an album which encaptured her amazing vocal talents. This covers album does justice to the songs chosen and pays respect to the artists whose tracks were recreated.
Produced in Ocean Way Studios in Nashville, Tennessee, and recorded by guitar legends Bonamassa and Josh Smith, this eagerly awaited album was released Worldwide on the 17th September 2021 on Joe's independent record label Keeping The Blues Alive Records. This new label's main objective is to support and promote Blues and Blues-Rock based music, preserving it's rich culture and history for generations to come. “We try not to live in the well-worn trail of the blues,” explains Bonamassa, reiterating that each song had to stand on it's own, while paying gratitude and acknowledgement to the original masters.
Following on from Joanne's critically acclaimed 2019 album, 'Reckless Heart ', 'The Blues Album' features, alongside Shaw Taylor and the aforementioned Smith, Reese Wynans (keyboards), Mark Douthit (sax), Greg Morrow (drums), Steve Mackey (bass), Steve Patrick (trumpet), Barry Green (trombone) with Bonamassa playing guitar and singing on the track 'Don’t Go Away Mad'. Mike Farris also joins as a special guest on 'I Don’t Know What You’ve Got'. A selection of Peter Green, Albert King, Little Richard, Aretha Franklin, Little Milton and Magic Sam songs, some of which were B-sides, are amongst the Blues music classics offered to us in this recording.
Blues music concentrates on expressing intense feelings and is generally the telling of a sorrowful tale lamenting and telling of a broken love, oppression and the hard times that we find ourselves in when this happens. Joanne's chosen tracks are all about the infidelities that can happen as life sometimes wanders off track, as people chase dreams and their and other's life paths are changed.
Naturally, all songs chosen for this album are ones that Joanne loves and enjoys performing, and with Fleetwood Mac being a massive part of the Blues era, with guitarist Peter Green considered by her to be one of our greatest Blues players and singers, 'Stop Messin' Round' starts us on her journey to celebrate the Blues. Bursting into this track, Joanne struts her embedded Blues style croaking, out of her respect to the song and to it's creators, whilst unleashing her wailing, well-balanced guitar finesse.
'If That Ain't A Reason', originally recorded by Little Milton, was a song that Joanne had never heard before, but when she was introduced to it by Joe she loved it's comedy and Funk. Growling out the lyrics in this jiggy rendition, she has your bones jumping with her guitar dancing deep in the pit of you, as the story is told of a cheating husband, caring and looking out only for himself, feeling no shame as he calls his marital woman by the wrong name!
'Keep on Lovin' Me' was written and first released by Otis Rush and his band in 1969, but Joanne works off Magic Sam's version which was the first that she had heard, mixed in with The Paladines version with guitarist Dave Gonzalez, who was an early influence in her life. She gives respect to all with her hip twisting style, singing of the satisfaction of finding the one that you are destined to travel life with, and the importance of making sure that you don't take them for granted.
'If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody' was written by Ray Clark and was originally sung by James Ray in 1961, and then subsequently by a good few artists thereafter. Throwing her own style and depth into it, Joanne entices you with her Blues fluency and eclectric range, as she recites about having dedication for a person and always being there for them.
'Don't Go Away Mad' sees Joanne in a well meshed duet with Joe, as they record this song, originally recorded in 1991 by supergroup Little Village, comprising Ry Cooder, Nick Lowe, Jim Keltner and John Hiatt. The song tells of how life moves on and how we shouldn't regret or punish ourselves for chasing dreams, and is rhythmically interesting with a quirky bass, not quite following the Blues vibe of the rest of the album.
'Scraps Vignette' is an instrumental interlude which sees Joanne trading licks with Josh Smith, who has been praised as a Blues prodigy since the age of twelve. She takes the opportunity in this instrumental interlude to play, in her unmistakeable way, one of her indominatable solo pieces.
'Can't You See What You're Doing To Me', was originally performed by Albert King, a Blues superstar and man who she's always considered to be an incredible Blues singer; Joanne impressively grinds out her guitar and vocal skills in respect of this. She was a little dubious with taking on a track from this Blues legend initially, but proudly does the song justice giving it her own individual bend and hard-nosed twists laying it down with all the passion and respect for the man that she possesses.
Released in 1968, 'Let Me Down Easy' was written by Maurice Dollinson and recorded by Little Milton. The song is all about trying to figure out how a relationship has wandered off track, accepting this and walking away with your pride. Joe was responsible for making Joanne aware of this artist and she loved the song right from the start. With having a clear mind, uninfluenced by other's interpretations, she found it easy to perform it in her own classic and individual style.
'Two Time My Lovin' is a Fabulous Thunderbirds song of betrayal and the acceptance of it. Although chosen for her to record by Josh and Joe, she was delighted at them for pushing her out of her comfort zone to record a post 60's cover with such foot tapping grooves, as this was also an era which she had initially shied away from.
'I Don't Know What You've Got',a song written by Atlantic soulman Don Covay in 1965, and originally performed by Little Richard, featured a young Jimi Hendrix on guitar, and this soulful gem reached number twelve in the R 'n' B charts. The song follows the theme of a dirty, cheating relationship, that holds together almost like being under a spell with no escape from it; it was unusual for Little Richard to record a ballad, but this was the first song that Shaw Taylor chose to be put on the album. Reese Wynans is found playing keys on this track which was a thrill to Joanne, as early in his career Reese had actually worked with Little Richard.
'Three Time Loser', again written by Don Covay, a prolific songwriter, featured on his 'Have Mercy! The Songs of Don Covay' album, and was also chosen by Joe and Josh. This song was first recorded in October 1966 by Wilson Pickett and has been sung by more than a dozen other artists right up to 2018. 'The Blues Album' theme of lucking out in love and of how the loss of a beautiful friendship with a partner will ultimately fail when the relationship breaks down, has Joanne and her vocal expression delivering gutteral lyrics against the deep, swinging, enticing beat, accompanied by incredible piano throughout. A great track to finish this Blues celebration album with.
Joanne Shaw Taylor's delivery of these Blues masters does not fail to stand up to the mark with her tracks resonating strongly and taking you back to a time when life was hard but simple. You can sense the fun that she had in creating this album and it's one that you'll want to play again and again. The classic Blues songs that she chose accentuate her deep, husky vocal skills and show off her phenomenal range and joy in performing, a real treat.
1. STOP MESSIN’ ROUND (3:38)
2. IF THAT AIN’T A REASON (4:00)
3. KEEP ON LOVIN’ ME (4:07)
4. IF YOU GOTTA MAKE A FOOL OF SOMEBODY (4:10)
5. DON’T GO AWAY MAD feat. Joe Bonamassa (2:49)
6. SCRAPS VIGNETTE (1:27)
7. CAN’T YOU SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO ME (4:25)
8. LET ME DOWN EASY (4:50)
9. TWO TIME MY LOVIN’ (4:34)
10. I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’VE GOT feat. Mike Farris (4:49)
11. THREE TIME LOSER (4:52)