Blues of Desperation
The Crown Prince Comes of Age on Most Accomplished Album Yet.
Love him or loathe him; you have to admire Joe Bonamassa’s work ethic; and while many of his peers keep recording the ‘same album’ every couple of years; the New York guitarist never rests on his laurels and no two albums are ever the same.
This is his 12th studio album and sounds a lot a rawer and; even dirtier and heavier than anything he’s recorded before and alongside producer Kevin Shirley; he doesn’t allow his amazing talents on the guitar to over shadow what just might be his best set of songs to date.
The seed is sown with the rocking and rollin’ opening song This rain which showcases Bonamassa’s ‘rich’ voice; which I’ve previously been a critic of. I don’t know if it’s the production; or he’s using his golden larynx in a new way; but he now sounds like a true Rock Singer; as well as a mighty fine geetar player too.
This is followed by a deep and mysterious Blues Rocker; that nudges the Heavy threshold; but mercifully pulls back from the brink, leaving a corker of a song, that had even me had banging as I typed.
For me the joy of this album is the songwriting; try listening to No Good Place For The Lonely and you’ll be transported back to the Marquee Club or perhaps The Fillmore in the blink of an eye.
While neither that song, nor You Left Me Nothing But The Bill, and The Blues are Retro in shape or form; both take their lead from the likes of Johnny Winter and Rory Gallagher in their heyday; but move things on to today or even tomorrow in the way the songs are constructed and played.
Several years ago I criticised the Acoustic Night in Vienna album as an ‘opportunity missed’ and I believe I’ve been vindicated when you hear the low down and soulful; acoustic The Valley Runs Low and to some degree the swinging Blues of Livin’ Easy which had me playing along on air-slide guitar like a hormonal teenager. I’d love to hear a whole album in this vein (hint, hint).
In my humble opinion this if by far Bonamassa’s best; and most complete album to date with album closer What I’ve Known For a Very Long Time drawing on the Muddy Wolf album for inspiration and the funky title track, Blues of Desperation arguably being two of his very best songs to date and two that sent shivers down my spine each time I’ve heard them.
Much like the previous album Different Shades of Blue, this album is as much; if not even more focused on the actual songs and their messages as the guitar playing; which is a new and very mature departure; that said there are more than enough guitar solos to have his fans salivating at the thought of how he will interpret them in concert.
Released 25th March 2016