Thursday, July 7, 2022

Joanne Shaw Taylor Sings the Blues

British guitarist and singer/songwriter, Joanne Shaw Taylor has announced the release date of her sixth studio full-length record The Blues Album to be Friday 24th September, with her latest single, ‘Let Me Down Easy’, available now.

The hotly tipped 11-track album features personalised covers of eleven rare blues classics originally recorded by the likes of Albert King, Peter Green, Little Richard, Magic Sam, Aretha Franklin and Little Milton.

The Blues Album is the follow up to 2019’s critically acclaimed album Reckless Heart. It features Josh Smith (guitar), Reese Wynans (keyboards), Greg Morrow (drums), Steve Mackey (bass), Steve Patrick (trumpet), Mark Douthit (sax), Barry Green (trombone). Joe Bonamassa plays guitar and sings on the track ‘Don’t Go Away Mad’ and Mike Farris also joins as a special guest on I Don’t Know What You’ve Got’.

The album will be released via Joe Bonamassa’s independent blues label KTBA Records. It was produced and recorded by him and Josh Smith at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I’d known from the beginning of my recording career that one day I wanted to record an album of blues covers, I just wasn’t sure when the right time to do that would be,” said Joanne Shaw Taylor. “I’ve always found it far easier to write my own material than come up with creative ways to make other artists’ material my own.”

When the pandemic put the brakes on musicians touring during 2020 and most of 2021, she thought it was the right time to head into the studio to record The Blues Album.

“I mentioned my new project idea to Joe Bonamassa,” she recalled. “He asked me for my song choices. Immediately he began sending me notes and was texting me song suggestions.” The pair have apparently  been friends and fans of each other’s music for many years, and she had always wanted to work with him if the right project or collaboration came about.

“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,” she said. “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.”

“We wanted to make a tough vocal centric straight blues record that showcases Joanne’s amazing talent but in a slightly different light,” explained Bonamassa. “Joanne is a dear friend and a superstar. Josh and I focused on testing her limits and pushing boundaries that might not have occurred before. It’s all about making a statement and having the listener want to play the music repeatedly.”

This covers album pays tribute to artists and bands that are not obvious choices including Little Village, Little Milton, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, James Ray, but, at the same time, she covers seminal blues icons including Albert King, Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green and Magic Sam. Some of the songs covered are B-sides of singles.

“We try not to live in the well-worn trails of the blues,” explained Bonamassa. “Each song has to has to stand on its own while paying tribute to the original masters.”

“Joe made it known from the get-go that his main objective for this album was to push me as a singer,” said Taylor. “Obviously, Joe has seen me perform many times over the years and knows my voice well. I think he felt that he could give my vocal performance more, and get more out of it, especially since I’d had over a year to rest my vocal cords.”

Ultimately, what did Bonamassa set out to achieve by co-producing this album?

“If you focus on what people might not associate with an artist and work hard on those areas it allows her fans to discover things and sets her up in a different light. Joanne’s a great singer and always has been. The guitar unfortunately has over-shadowed it until now. A lot of us in the business have the same problem,” he declared.

“On the new album, I mostly played my own guitar, my 1966 Esquire Junior,” said Taylor. “I tried to use a few of Joes Telecasters, but they’re set up for much bigger hands than mine. I did use Joe’s vintage amps – I believe one of his 60s Vibroverbs mixed with a fumble overdrive for pretty much all of it. We didn’t use any pedals.”

“Joe and Josh make a fantastic team,” insisted Taylor. “Both bring something different to the table that the other maybe couldn’t. I loved working with them. I was worried about working with Joe for obvious reasons (we are very close friends), but you never know how that will translate into a working relationship.

“It was cool to work with two guys not much older than me. Most of the producers I’ve worked with so far haven’t been so close to me in age, plus Joe and Josh have the added benefit of understanding what it is to tour on the same scene as me and what me touring this album will look like. All in all, it was a very relaxed fun session and hang.”

Joanne Shaw Taylor’s new album and single can be ordered by clicking here.

You can watch the video to of Let Me Down Easy’ right here at RAMzine.

Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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