23 October 2020 (released)
25 October 2020
It has actually been a while since Joe Bonamassa’s last studio album – ‘Redemption’ nearly three years ago – but it feels as though he has been a constant buzz of activity so a genuine new album is almost a relief.
‘Redemption’ was a superb album, full of depth and dark power and in the time since, he released his ‘British Blues Explosion’ live album, ‘Live at The Sydney Opera House’ and hinted at a new album to be recorded in the UK. So, here it is and not only is it a stunning album but it seems to be the album that most reflects his great love of the original British Blues Boom and has a sense of real ‘release’ – that feeling of powerful creativity when you have escaped from a ‘situation’.
The album features collaborations with Bernie Marsden (ex-Whitesnake), Pete Brown (lyricist for Cream and many others) & Jools Holland and he has really captured much of the sound of his British heroes such as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher and John Mayall. Bonamassa grew up with the British greats in his dad’s collection: Bonamassa says “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’.”
It was recorded at London’s Abbey Road – a bucket list entry crossed off for Bonamassa – and the recording quality and production – as usual Kevin Shirley at the helm – is incredibly clean and sharp as well as being full of punch and bounce.
Bonamassa again: “Writing this record in London has done its job. It really does sound inherently British. Bernie and I, we finish each other’s sentences. We’re cut from the same cloth.” Bonamassa brought his regular touring band over for the sessions and the familiarity of playing with the likes of Reese Wynans will have made the experience much easier than bringing in a bunch of sessioneers.
A lot of the music is about looking forward and making the right calls – the singles ‘A Conversation With Alice’ and ‘Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye’. Both fit the confident model of Bonamassa this time out.
Opening number ‘When One Door Opens’ is one of the best things he has done in years, opening with a big string piece and then into a classic Blues Rock riff, his vocal is delicate, almost fragile and strengthening as he develops the theme. The song is complex but the development to the main Bolero style finale. Really, Bonamassa at his best and it would make for a great live number.
Elsewhere there are favourite tracks all through the album. ‘High Class Girl’ harks back to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers while ‘Lookout Man’ has a monster bass riff and a full on attack from start to finish. ‘Beyond The Silence’ is a moody piece with great atmosphere and superb playing from Bonamassa.
This really is the best album I have heard from Joe Bonamassa in a long while. He sounds good, the songs are great and his playing is free and strong. A really fine album.