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I am a huge fan of many different music genres and styles and when I like an artist I follow their whole career. One such artist I have become a massive fan of is Joe Bonamassa. He started off as a child guitar prodigy and was playing alongside the likes of BB King at just 12 quickly gaining a reputation as the next Guitar God. Since his early days he has played with all the major stars in Blues today. Buddy Guy, Eric Clapton, Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks and many more. Before his solo career he was in a Blues and Rock band named Bloodline which released an album in 1994, the band also included Erin Davis (son of Miles Davis), rhythm guitarist Waylon Krieger (son of Robby Krieger), and bassist and lead vocalist Berry Oakley, Jr. (son of Berry Oakley).
Joe Bonamassa is also currently in the supergroup Black Country Communion with Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple & Black Sabbath), Jason Bonham (Son of Led Zep drummer John) and Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater). They have released two studio albums and I am also a big fan of the group as well as Bonamassa's solo material of course. He is an extremely prolific artist with the ten solo albums coming in just eleven years.
This is the tenth studio album from Joe Bonamassa as a solo artist, he also released a duet record with Beth Hart which came out a few months after this album and has gained very positive reviews indeed. Dust Bowl is the follow up to Black Rock which was released the previous year. As well as a couple of other performers, Beth Hart and Glenn Hughes also appear on two tracks on "Dust Bowl" and the album again features the Producer Kevin Shirley who is Bonamassa's longtime producer and also produces the Black Country Communion albums.
1.) Slow Train
This track opens with a train like sound with the crashing drums and guitar effects. The bluesy feel then kicks in with Bonamassa's soaring guitar and vocals coming in really strong. This is one of the most atmospheric songs on the album and is a really excellent opener. I love the way it builds and then the guitar work of Joe Bonamassa comes into it's own. Some excellent slide work is polished off with a phenomenal solo which meanders for a few seconds of bliss. One of the real standout tracks on the album and a great start to the album.
2.) Dust Bowl
This track starts off gently with just keyboard but don't let that fool you, once in flow this is a dark, eerie track with Joe's vocals laid back vocals developing through the song. The guitar solo comes in half way through with a bluesy feel and in perfect Joe Bonamassa fashion he changes the solo from a dark bluesy one to a bright and breezy one. This is another excellent track which not only shows the musicianship of Joe and his band but also his vocal ability and most importantly his vocal range. Peter Van Weelden tops off the track with an eerie spoken word piece.
3.) Tennessee Plates
This is probably my least favourite track on the album, It's not bad and has a very catchy feel but it also feels a little dated and doesn't really fit with the quality of the rest of the album. There's still some great guitar work on show but Joe's voice doesn't shine as usual and the addition of John Hiatt doesn't really add a lot and in some ways takes away from the overall feel of the song. Joe still shows off on the guitar and there's some very good piano and hammond organ playing by Steve Nathan towards the end. It redeems itself somewhat towards the end but is one of the weaker tracks. Vince Gill also appears on guitar.
4.) The Meaning of Blues
This is a cracker, It has an excellent start and Joe's vocals are back to their best. This is Joe's catchy, meandering blues and it really works. You can hear it developing and on the first listen you are listening out for where the solo comes in. well there's a first solo which whets your appetite and then you are well and truly fed towards the end when the second solo comes in which is just an extended jam session with the band also rising to the opportunity and there's a lovely guitar fade out which ends the track beautifully.
5.) Black Lung Heartache
This is a lot different to much of the album and in my opinion it's rather like Ritchie Blackmore's "Blackmore's Knight" with his wife Candice Knight. Well that's how it opens anyway but what follows is an raucous Blues Rock blast which slows and then erupts with precision. Bonamassa plays the Tzouras, Baglama and Slide bouzouki on this track which makes for the sound akin to "Blackmore's Knight. This is a good track which has a very varied feel. Good stuff.
6.) You better watch yourself
This is an excellent track which is a very catchy up tempo Blues Rock number. This is one of the tracks that shows the comparison with Eric Clapton with some very Clapton-esque riffs and solo guitar work. There's some excellent piano there too which is done by Rick Melick. This is the shortest track on the album but it gets everything all packed in. This is a really excellent track and showcases the talent of Joe Bonamassa and of course the comparisons that have been made between his style and Eric Clapton's.
7.) The Last Matador of Bayonne
This track was solely written by Bonamassa and is a delight, It's slow emotive opening combining gentle guitar, Trumpet and soft drums make for a very good track indeed. You then get the Beautifully Bluesy guitar tones which are soon joined by crashing drums to let the song really kick in. This is one of my favourite Joe Bonamassa songs and when you listen to it you will know why with the absolute eruption of guitar solo joy which comes midway through. This is a truly superb track which shows not only Joe's obvious guitar talent but also how well he builds a track. Stupendously good.
This is a track which features Glenn Hughes who provides vocals on this one as well as Joe. Glenn's Rock voice really comes through and as they both sing the chorus it's a joy to hear, as is the guitar eruption from Joe Bonamassa. This track could easily be one of the tracks on either Black Country Communion album as the sound really fits. Both are excellent singers and Joe's guitar work and the way their vocals soar together is superb. An outstanding collaboration which shows the Music power of them together.
9.) No Love on the street
This is another excellent track, It features the vocals of Beth Hart and also the guitar of Blondie Chaplin. Joe Bonamassa opens the vocals with a dark and laid back vocal. He combines superbly with the guitar of Chaplin and sets up wonderfully for the vocals from Beth Hart who doesn't disappoint with some fine backing vocals. Joe then shows off with a superb solo, The solo is absolutely relentless and the work on this track is amongst the best on the album.
10.) The whale that swallowed Jonah
This has a catchy feel with some great piano work and toe tapping drumming. Joe's guitar work comes in with aplomb. Joe's vocals are strong again and the overall musical feel is very good indeed but Joe's solos are again superb. This is not quite up there with the best on the album but that really just shows what a great album this is as the track is a very good one indeed. Joe's guitar is backed wonderfully well with a very catchy musical setting.
11.) Sweet Rowena
Sounding like it could be on a Jools Holland special album this is a fine collaboration between Joe Bonamassa and Vince Gill who also appeared on the John Hiatt collaboration "Tennessee Plates". Vince Gill starts off with the vocals. Steve Nathan is doing the work of Jools Holland on the Piano and Joe Bonamassa's guitar work is laid back and then his vocal part comes in which he delivers well, Gill showcases that he can play a fine solo too but Joe's in another league. This is an excellent collaboration.
This is another fabulous track which has Joe Bonamassa really showing off his immense guitar ability. The vocals come in with great emotion and the soaring guitar adds to that, once the music is in full flow this is a truly outstanding track. Joe's vocals are as strong here as on any track on "Dust Bowl" and then the guitar solo kicks in around 3 and a half minutes and develops wonderfully and when the guitar is joined again by the crashing drums the track is at it's wonderful best. Absolutely superb. what a great track to end with. Awesome.
This is the latest solo album from Joe Bonamassa and it further enhances his legacy as perhaps the greatest Guitarist of the generation. His voice is excellent too and there are many examples of this on "Dust Bowl". The best tracks here are amongst the best of his career and the solos are breathtakingly good. Joe Bonamassa's talent is extraordinary, the thing that gets me though is just the stream of incredible material that he seems to just release, He's one of the most prolific musicians of them all and thankfully one of the best. This album is a must for any Joe Bonamassa fan.
Joe Bonamassa is without doubt the man destined to continue and continue to develope and transform traditional blues and blues rock music through into the 21st century. Born May 1977 in New York state, U.S.A, it could be argued that this American bred blues star entered the world several decades too late. But after making his UK debut at the beginning of the century with 'A New Day Yesterday' in 2000 it became clear that the blues still flowed strongly amongst the British population - there was a want and need for Bonamassa.
Since 2000 another 11 albums have been released, at least 1 a year with the exception of 2001. Bonamassa both plays the guitar and sings on every album, creating a blues spectacle all must hear.
Dust Bowl is the latest album from the talented musician, released in 2011 and managing to reach U.S number 37 and U.K number 12 in the album charts - both personal bests across the whole 11-years of recording an releasing.
1. Slow Train
2. Dust Bowl
3. Tennessee Plates
4. The Meaning of the Blues
5. Black Lung Heartache
6. You better watch yourself
7. The Last Matador of Bayonne
9. No Love on the Street
10. The Whale that Swallowed Jonah
11. Sweet Rowena
At the beginning of the album, noises of an accelerating steam train merge into a blues riff and traditionally formatted blues song with verse, chorus and inevitable solo ('Slow Train'). However, the solo is introduced with much suttler tone and this works well to open the album at a lesser pace and strength.
Straight away it is noted that the sound and texture of the album is completely new and different from older Bonamassa entries.
A simple, reverbed, echoing riff opens 'Dust Bowl', the second track. However, the tone and strength of the song has increased from the previous, the intensity of the sound has risen. The lirics seem to explain a past relationship, "lifting me up and tearing me down", the emotions of something past at least. The solo is once again suttle but it works excellently with the general sound of the song.
'Tennessee Plates' is an up-beat, country-blues-western sound featuring John Hiatt and some new styles of singing and playing from Bonamassa. The harmonies between the two's voices express the song incredibly well and it becomes clear that a lot of time and effort must have been put into forming the lirics and guitar sound of the track. The song is drawn to a close with a fantastic country to blues electric guitar solo which lasts under 30seconds and rounds off the track nicely.
'The Meaning of the blues' brings the album (as I'm sure many would guess) back to that much loved blues sound. The song is slower and more predictable maybe, but then again it does contain some unpredictable chord changes within the verses which work fantastically to throw the listener from his/her patterned scent. A solo is once again present, but this time joined and mingled with a more complex drum beat to create a deeper sound.
The album takes a twist at the next track, 'Black lung heartache', as it is first opened with a banjo/acoustic riff before leading onto that reverbed electric sound common in most of Bonamassa's songs. Reverting back to the opening riff at the end of the song, the track seems well rounded and very complete. The lirics work excellently with the changed sound.
a wow wow sound of Hendrix proportion opens track 6 - 'You better watch yourself'. A manually operated phaser adds to the sound of the guitar a new element, and this coupled with Rick Melick's organ and piano sounds, and Bonamassa's voice creates perhaps the best sounding song of the album.
Track 7 - 'The last matador of bayonne' takes the album down several notches to an agonisingly slow pace. But somehow Bonamassa keeps the sound interesting and not at all boring. Tony Cedras appears in the background with key trumpet notes, and then the song explodes into big sounding guitar and heavy handed drums. The best solo of the album is sounded, a pure, faultless stream of guitar song leading back to singing and trumpet sounds in the distance. A dragging, low guitar sound left to fade ends the song beautifully.
Back to blues and a fantastic opening riff breaks the silence... 'Heartbreaker' is more like the sound Bonamassa fans have been used to in previous albums, but it still comes across as new and fresh. With this song its interesting to see just how far Bonamassa's voice has progressed since 2000, and believe me it has. This is perhaps the best sung track of the American's career - All the passion and control is there in full.
The tone is lowered once more by a largely solo dominated track which simply adds more depth to the album. 'No love on the street' features Miichael Kamen and Tim Curry and is fantastically well lirically written.
Track 10 - 'The whale that swallowed Jonah' takes the album back up-beat to a semi-country sound present in several of the tracks. Bonamassa's voice seems less impressive in some ways here, perhaps more like his past albums, but still great to listen to and admire. This is the only song on the album which could have been improved with a slightly more complex and less traditional format.
'Sweet Rowena' is track 11, and features some of the best bluesy piano from Steve Nathan and lead vocal from Vince Gill. The bass really blasts through in this track too, creating a deeper sound than expected. The lirics come across as slightly too predictable in this track, but that's the only negative thought.
'Prisoner' is the track which closes the album, and it does so stunningly. Rick Melick reappeares to collaborate with Bonamassa and his true guitar sound to finsih off Dust Bowl with rich riffs and piano sounds. 'I am a prisoner captured in your eyes' are some of the powerful lirics sung by Bonamassa in this, another incredible display of vocal talent by the musician.
I am very impressed with this album and have to call it the best of the 12. It seems as though none of the musicians present put a note wrong. But that doesn't mean they lost any of the intensity of the blues, its all captured wonderfully across several sub-genres of blues and country found here!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Slow Train
2 Dust Bowl
3 Tennessee Plates - Feat. John Hiatt
4 The Meaning Of The Blues
5 Black Lung Heartache
6 You Better Watch Yourself
7 The Last Matador Of Bayonne
8 Heartbreaker - Feat. Glenn Hughes
9 No Love On The Street
10 The Whale That Swallowed Jonah
11 Sweet Rowena - Feat. Vince Gill