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I have been a fan of Joanne Shaw Taylor for a while now and she is beginning to gain big exposure and critical acclaim from Prominent Music reviewers and also her peers. She's released three studio albums and has Toured the United Kingdom and has also embarked on a couple of Tours around the United States of America as well. She's the best female Guitarist out there in my opinion and is one of the best Blues artists around at the minute. It was my wish to see her Live and I saw her in Bristol on her recent UK Tour and even got to meet her after the Gig too which was great and I can now add her to the list of artists who I have met.
**Almost Always Never**
This is the third album from Joanne Shaw Taylor and was released on 17th September 2012. The album was released on Ruf Records and features David Garza (keyboards), Billy White (bass, guitar) and J.J. Johnson (drums). It follows on from her previous albums "White Sugar" and "Diamonds In The Dirt". Production comes from Mike McCarthy. So does this album continue to build on the reputation that the first two albums have given Joanne Shaw Taylor as one of the finest Blues Rock stars around at the minute or is her third album not up to scratch compared to the fine work on her first two releases?. Well read on for my thoughts on this album.
1.) Soul Station
This is an excellent opener which has a catchy up tempo feel which is a fine example of her work. The catchy guitar riffs are backed well by a decent drum part and some catchy bass hooks with some subtle keyboard tones. Joanne showcases her excellent guitar work which is backed well by some nice keys. Her vibrant guitar work is clearly evidence that she is the star of the show and her expressive voice is both powerful and emotive too. She really lets loose towards the end of the song which is backed well by the other members in the band. Good start.
2.) Beautifully Broken
This is not a cover of the Government Mule track but is an excellent track with a lovely organ part in the background, Joanne's guitar playing is backed by the gentle drum parts and the song has a smooth introduction which develops after a while with her emotive vocals becoming louder and her detailed voice emotes the lyrics well and she shows some nice vocal touches which are backed well by the organ. This track is more gentle than much of the album but it gets more up tempo towards the end with some fine and pretty varied guitar work.
3.) You Should Stay, I Should Go
This is another fairly chilled track, Joanne's expressive vocals are there from the off and the guitar talent comes later on as she builds the song first. There's some nice organ work in the background and the song is fairly chilled until some excellent guitar work in which she plays some long notes in a couple of excellent solos. This track is not one of the more instant tracks on the album but it has a lot going for it and is definitely worth a listen.
4.) Piece Of The Sky
This is another chilled moment from the album. Her expressive vocals help build the song really well and she proves herself a fine vocalist throughout the song with some nice and varied tones. I like the way this song builds and her guitar work really finishes things off really well. The long extended solo is particularly excellent as she puts some great emotion into it. This is one of the best tracks on the album and I really like the way the song builds.
5.) Army Of One
This is a more gentle track than much of the album, It features some excellent slide work and has an old style Blues feel with her emotive vocals taking the song to the next level. The out and out guitar work isn't there on this one but she showcases her ability as an Artist here as she performs something quite different to much of the album and much of her previous work too. This is the sign of a great artist and Joanne Shaw Taylor is certainly that as she proves that she can do more than just Blues Rock.
This is a fabulous track which is a contender for best track on the album. It's one of the more Deep Blues moments on the album as it opens with some gut wrenching Blues Organ and Joanne's vocals are expressive and extremely believable on this tale of jealousy. She shows some fine guitar work here which is up there with anything she has done previously. It's another fantastic build up to the guitar solo which really completes things wonderfully well. The solo starts slowly and is dripping with emotion. This is a truly superb track.
7.) Almost Always Never
This is an excellent track which is another excellent builder, Her emotive vocals come in and her intonation is different here than on much of the album which again showcases her talent as a vocalist as well as the obvious guitar playing abilities. Her vocals here are like she is explaining something to the listener and it has a real sincerity to it. The track takes a while to get going but when it does it's at the perfect time and there's some excellent laid back solo work which really tops things off well.
8.) Tied & Bound
This is perhaps the Heaviest track on the album, It's a vibrant slice of Blues Rock which is backed by the lovely Organ again. Her voice is expressive as usual and the song has some excellent catchy parts and her vocals are strong and in control as she builds up for some excellent guitar work which really completes the song. There's also some great Organ work from David Garza which reminds me a lot of Derek Sherinian of Black Country Communion. This is another contender for best track on the album.
9.) A Hand In Love
This is one of the more catchy, mellow moments on the album and is a nice laid back track with expressive vocals and a nice melodic feel. The drum parts are simple and the organ/keys are simple yet effective on this track which develops well. I like the guitar work towards the end which is reminiscent of John Mayer's recent work. It's a nice effective track which will appeal for a chilled evening. Good stuff.
10.) Standing To Fall
This is one of the more Blues Rock moments on the album and has some great catchy riffs which run along the album well. There's an extended Instrumental period where Joanne Shaw Taylor shows off some great guitar work as she's backed wonderfully well by the band with some subtle yet effective percussion, fine organ work and some detailed and subtle bass hooks. Good stuff indeed. Another contender for best tracks on the album.
11.) Maybe Tomorrow
This track features some Reggae like riffs and tones with a blues feel. The track takes a while until it's in full flow but it works really well. Again there's some good work all round but the star is undoubtedly Joanne Shaw Taylor with another extended Instrumental period on this track too in which she shows off some varied and interesting solos. This is another excellent track which showcases the Musicianship of the band and Shaw Taylor's talent.
12.) Lose Myself To Loving You
This is a lovely moment to end the album with, It's a chilled track which has some lovely acoustic guitar and some gentle keys and bass. The drums come in with a simple relaxed feel and Joanne's expressive vocals really shine on this lovely ballad. It's another fine track which builds wonderfully well. It's a fine ending to the album which is topped off with some excellent guitar work towards the end that really compliments the emotion of the song. Brilliant stuff.
Joanne Shaw Taylor is in my opinion the best female guitarist and she is one of my favourite artists. Her voice is superbly emotive and her guitar playing is quite simple wonderful. She deserves the reputation she is getting as one of the best Blues artists around and she is terrific live too. If you have heard her first two albums then check this album out too as it's just as good. I look forward to seeing her again and listening to more and more Joanne Shaw Taylor albums in the next few years as she is definitely around to stay.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Soul Station
2 Beautifully Broken
3 You Should Stay, I Should Go
4 Piece Of The Sky
5 Army Of One
7 Almost Always Never
8 Tied & Bound
9 A Hand In Love
10 Standing To Fall
11 Maybe Tomorrow
12 Lose Myself To Loving You