304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
304 North Cardinal St.
Dorchester Center, MA 02124
Joe Bonamassa’s Royal Tea and A New Day Now follow his instrumental side project called The Sleep Eazys, who released their stunning debut album, Easy To Buy, Hard To Sell, earlier this year. The album, which the Associated Press touted as making “instrumental dreams,” was produced by Bonamassa and features some of his frequent collaborators, along with his all-star touring band. The Sleep Eazys project is Joe’s second time in the studio as a producer, after Reese Wynans’ long-awaited debut solo album Sweet Release.
Joe Bonamassa’s new solo studio album Royal Tea, inspired by his British guitar heroes Jeff Beck, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, and Cream, was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios.
Bonamassa is known for taking risks and venturing into uncharted territory throughout his wide-ranging career but now he has found a new way to surprise his fans and music lovers. Royal Tea brings Bonamassa full-circle. “This whole adventure,” admits Joe, “was a bucket-list thing for me.” This album reconnects the 43-year-old with the guitar-slinging kid from upstate New York, who stumbled across the best of British blues music in his dad’s vinyl collection – whose influences have shaped him to be the player he is today. “I would have been about twelve years old, and it was the sound I heard in my head. Like, ‘OK, I’m in. That’s what I want to be’.”
Opening with strings swelling and orchestra filling a void where the speakers had stood silent. I must admit I checked I was streaming Joe Bonamassa’s Royal Tea. Delighted to say I was and the opening soundscape of the seven-and-a-half minute, When One Door Opens had me mesmerised, sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what was to follow. Joe’s voice Is deep curling around the modulated beat a clear guitar licks, the effective echo of his female backing singers we feel as if we are stepping back into to another time and place leaving the now. The phrasing feels familiar as if you have heard the melody before. Doors are opening into to different rooms moods are shaped we follow hints of other music are shared but then you are hit with the full force by Anton Fig’s drumming as Ravels Bolero interjects Baroque rock has become a thing again as Beck’s Bolero is recalled. This is blues shaped with a fuzzy overtone, harnessing the exciting tonal shaping of blues re-interpreted by the British. Looking back and driving the music forward with inventive modernity. a winning opener. Can the rest follow or has the album peaked too soon is there still hot tea in the pot? The title track follows can it build the momentum?
The title track is heavier, meatier with the guitar strings bent to breaking point. Shorter with flashes of reverence to the greats of yesteryear but then leaping on to a new blending of the chords. We are in an elegant room with tea and champagne and harmonising that builds the tension that Joe’s guitar and vocals bring to a mellow crescendo of blues power. Does the track build on the opening number yes as Joe cleverly takes us into a different place in the many rooms that Royal Tea opens?
The longest title on the album is reserved for the ballad. As the tempo slows into the melodically restrained Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye. This is a track to saviour enjoy the path the lyrics and guitar take you. Thoughtful with a pure control, then a passionate heartfelt middle section of a Bonamassa lead-break that takes us home to the end of the ballad with a guitar twist.
Tempos changes with the bass-driven Lookout Man which gives Michael Rhodes fingers a work out this is a rhythmic workout. Lookout your feet will refuse to keep still picking up the driving energy. Whatever your mood this is a pick-me-up. with a difference as this is no monotone the mood alters sharpens as we are drawn to the end. Neatly leading into High-Class Girl Reese Wynan’s turn to shine those ivories. If you have never had Green Onions with your tea now is the time to experiment. It works. This track conjures up the true vibe of the sixties.
Back on familiar guitar opening Wah pedal-driven number as we take tea and have A Conversation with Alice, co-written with Bernie Marsden. having heard the single released early in Lockdown it is an old-friend and one to be enjoyed.
Now the final four tracks as the teapot of music offerings empties. I can assure you this is not an album that is fading. Has he left the best to last? He certainly closes out the album with four tracks that are eclectic varying in style and keeping your ears on their toes!
I Didn’t Think She would do is a healthy help of blues that rocks, every instrument gets a work-out and the pedals are on fire. Followed by a slower rhythmic stormy beat of Beyond the silence. The Hammond adds to the mood, this is a slow burner, this is an extravaganza of a number that grows in stature. With every listen, new layers are heard and the track keeps on giving pure pleasure.
Now a change in tempo so sit up and take notice we are having a bop on a Saturday night in a draft hall. Fun as the rockabilly vibes is harnessed. feet-tapping your mood is instantly lifted by Lonely Boy. The brass and the fingers dancing across the keys makes you smile. Uplifting four-minutes of Bonamassa magic.
Tenth track and our final cup of Royal Tea has to offer with Savannah. We take a country road with piano and acoustic as we travel the long road. A mellow ending.
Royal Tea takes the listener to many memorable places each cup of music tea on offer has been different the album never descends into eclectic mayhem because every track is an authentic side of Bonamassa. For fans and those discovering the talents of Bonamassa, I recommend that you drink deep and often from this musical cup of Royal tea – it invigorates.
Bluesdoodles rating: Stupendous, Joe Bonamassa delivers on Royal Tea ten tracks of freshly brewed delights
1. When One Door Opens
2. Royal Tea
3. Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye
4. Lookout Man
5. High Class Girl
6. A Conversation With Alice
7. I Didn’t Think She Would Do It
8. Beyond The Silence
9. Lonely Boy
Joe Bonamassa: guitar & Vocals
Michael Rhodes: bass
Reese Wynans: keyboards
Anton Fig; drums