Reviewed by Michael Rampa
Blues singer Joanne Shaw Taylor's rise to prominence mirrors that of Joe Bonamassa, who is now her producer. A series of PBS concerts in heavy rotation piqued a lot of interest among new fans and brought out those who had been following them for years.
Taylor was 16 when she was discovered by Dave Stewart of Eurhythmics. With a talent like Taylor on the scene, a reckoning may be at hand. Men have disproportionately occupied lead guitar, vocals, and musical director roles. Not in this outfit. Taylor is crashing the boys club using her Telecaster as a battering ram. The bruising solos, huge belt range and musical direction all come from her.
The affable Brit with the platinum blond locks and beaming smile opened with a scorching version of "Stop Messing Around" from her aptly titled "The Blues Album," which the set focused heavily upon.
Of course, she can play bruising blues for two hours and draws comparisons to her influences from all eras of the genre from Albert King to Stevie Ray Vaughan but the genius of her artistry is what she doesn't do. She is not just a high-volume speed player and has the ability to paint different textures in a genre that typically never takes its foot off the gas pedal.
"Won't Be Fooled Again" features a breezy dance melody in the vein of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" She went acoustic for "Fade Away" which helped her cope with her mother's passing. She is a fine songwriter and has a feel for melodic structure that allows her songs to breathe organically and through even through the hardest rocking numbers.
Blues players face the potential pitfall of being labeled solely high-volume speed players, but Taylor's palate of sound textures makes for her songs range from radio friendly three-minute singles to highly complex numbers that feature diminished chords and arpeggios that are the signatures of virtuosos.
The journalist community that effectively cautions the over hyping of an artist as "Don't Drink the Press release Kool Aid." Not in this case. Every scorching solo brought more true believers and every superlative superlative ascribed to her is well warranted. So, pour a glass of Kool Aid and drink up. It's delicious.