Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation
There is a definite blues scent of originality within the latest album, Blues of Desperation, from Joe Bonamassa. The whole album takes on a journey through the geography of the blues as the album explores the physical landscape of rivers, mountains and valleys by train. Other tracks explore emotional blues of love lost, misery and desperation. The eleven original tracks have a depth and musical arrangements that augment and add a wisdom to the lyrics. Building on his last studio recording Different Shades of Blue.
The opening track This Train gets the journey underway with a raw rhythm and curling guitar riff that mimics the movement of a train moving along the tracks with purpose and determination. The instrumentation at times is muted allowing vocals and lyrics to drive the soul of the album as on Mountain Climbing. This builds with backing vocal and guitar that grinds reflecting the struggles of the poor working man. The track is poignant and relevant for life today as in the historical context of the track just replace toiling in the fields with toiling in the factory or office! Where will we be taken next as swampy guitar sounding more Latin than Southern Rock we are off for a drive with a swing in our hips. The drive is a solution to stress as Joe B’s vocals sooth and ‘put on an old blues song. And let our troubles be gone Lets Drive”.
Nearly half way into the album and the journey takes up deep into the Blues of Desperation. The guitar is full of pleading and the low feeling of desperation, the drum beat is harsh and enduring like your brain whirling when desperation is like staring into an abyss of tears. The track is a sonic description of the emotional rollercoaster you feel when you are desperate, have now where to turn. Through the miasma whirl of instruments there is a touch of the east with Joe’s vocals a track dripping with honest emotion as it fades away. Phew! After all the emotion we take another return with the first single of the album The Valley Runs Low. The beat opens up and the tempo has a lightness and the backing vocals make this country fueled blues ditty flow from the speakers.
The urban blues and the electric guitar puts you in a spin for You Left Me Nothin’ But The Bill and the Blues, the way we have come to know through albums and live shows. This album ain’t leaving us there, no the next station is Distant Lonesome Train. There is a real urgency and the drums beat out the feeling of the album as we explore the lonesome trail. The driving guitar and keys gives the Lonesome Train a real intensity.
With horns and an easy feel Livin’ Easy takes us back to the time of speakeasies and is redolent of the last in the structure of the melody. Like the rest of the album this penultimate track fits in perfectly. Closing with What I’ve Known For A Long Time a blues number that curls around the journey Joe has shared with you through his music for over an hour. Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation has hit upon a winning blues drenched formula of delights. Why, the tonal context of plugging into a Fender amp and using the power of his fingers on the six-strings creates a rhythmical sound that drives Bonamassa on an exciting road of twenty-first century blues.
The album is eleven tracks that are about more than the considerable guitar skills of Grammy nominated Joe B. It is about how music and blues-rock musicians reflect back to listeners experiences they can connect to. Joe Bonamassa inspired to explore Blues of Desperation has created an album that is drenched in the blues and is a mature reflection of urban twenty-first century blues.
There is a swaggering attitude throughout that adds not a smugness to the production but assuredness of an album that is complete. This is the first time Bluesdoodles has given Joe Bonamassa a 10 this is an inspired album that hit my blues-spot. This is a new approach more muted deeper tones, the result a powerful statement an album with direction and purpose.
Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN doodle paws out of TEN ….
1. This Train
2. Mountain Climbing
4. No Good Place For The Lonely
5. Blues of Desperation
6. The Valleys Run Low
7. You Left Me Nothin’ But The Bill And The Blues
8. Distant Lonesome Train
9. How deep Does This River Run
10. Livin’ Easy
11. What I’ve Known For A Very Long Time
Some Facts and then a video for you…
Bonamassa and his long-time producer Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Journey) convened at Nashville’s Grand Victor Sound Studios (formerly known as RCA Studio A), and during an intense, five-day period they recorded 11 galvanizing songs with a crack group of musicians including drummers Anton Fig and Greg Morrow, bassist Michael Rhodes, keyboardist Reese Wynans, horn players Lee Thornburg, Paulie Cerra and Mark Douthit, and background singers Mahalia Barnes, Jade McRae and Juanita Tippins.