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I usually write my reviews on Dooyoo first and then paste them onto ciao but seeing as the request had not yet been accepted on Dooyoo and the item was already up on Ciao I decided to review it on there first. I first came across Joanne Shaw Taylor when I was looking for some new music on myspace. I had a listen and was amazed. Although in the early days of Blues there were a few talented female blues performers I had not heard any nowadays that were any good. UNTIL NOW. Here is my review of Joanne Shaw Taylor's debut album "White Sugar"
Aged just 16 years old Joanne Shaw Taylor was discovered by Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics. his reaction was as follows...I have played with all sorts of blues musicians all over the world such as R.L.Burnside and Jesse-Mae Hemphill. I heard something I thought I would never hear....a British white girl playing blues guitar so deep and passionately it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end!!! Not only was I in total shock but it took me a good few minutes to ask her how long she had been playing like that ? "A few years" she replied "how old are you now" I asked "sixteen she said. I woke up a few seconds later on the floor.
Now 23 years old Joanne Shaw Taylor released her debut album White Sugar. The album was recorded in Bluesman Jim Gaines studio in Memphis, He brought in the experienced sessionmen Steve Potts (drums) and Dave Smith (bass) and the recording began. There are ten tracks on "White Sugar", some written during the flight from the UK to Memphis and some over the last ten years that she has performed in her live performances.
Just Another Word
Who Do You Want Me To Be?
Time Has Come
Kiss The Ground Goodbye
Watch 'em Burn
Joanne get's things started with "Going Home" which opens with a gut wrenching "Sea Sick Steve" like blues riff. the bass comes kicking in and then the drums crash in before you get the real guitar brilliance, For someone of 23 her vocal is all the more remarkable, her raspy smoky vocal belies her age and has all the power and grace of someone nearly twice her age. The track moves along brilliantly and then her solo kicks in and just stops you dead in your tracks. BRILLIANT
Next up is "Just another word" which has more of a Blues rock feel akin to Chris Rea. The catchy drum beat and gentle bass guitar joins the plucking guitar for a very pleasantly flowing melody with some fine guitar tones creating nice melodies. Her voice is again smoky and expressive. This track is not as instant as the opener but don't let that fool you as this is another very impressive track which has fine musicianship and a different solo which shows her guitar range.
"Bones" has the grit and feel of a catchy Buddy Guy standard mixed with Stevie Ray Vaughan. This track has some great guitar tones and the catchy riff that runs through the track is a real toe tapper. She shows more of her vocal power here to with a really strong, raspy tone. then she lets loose on the guitar with a really powerful guitar solo that really showcases her talent. This is such an impressive track.
"Who Do You Want Me To Be?" is the fourth track on the album and is more Blues rock than "Just another word" It features smooth backing vocals and driving guitar melodies from Shaw Taylor. This continues the catchy feel of the album so far whilst still keeping the message relevant. When she kicks into the songs main solo you are left in no doubt of the power of the song. Brilliant stuff yet again.
"Time has come" opens with a down and dirty blues feel, her vocals then come in with her guitar which shows more of a bluesy feel than the previous track. Joanne again shows off her guitar skill with some great work on the solo which gets better and better the further it progresses. The drums and bass drive right through the song making the impact of the guitar all the more special. She really lets loose on this track. Wow!!!! when it leads into just the music she lets loose incredibly.
"White Sugar" is the title track from this album and is the only instrumental on the album and has a great jam session feel with the bass and drums getting moments to shine in the three musician setup. Whilst the guitar work is not as damn right powerful as some of the other tracks it still has bags of emotion and is still wondrous. What power it has is superb!!!
"Kiss the ground goodbye" opens with a melody that reminds me a lot of John Mayer's "What until tomorrow" and then the song develops into it's own feel and runs through with this very catchy feel until she lets loose with an exceptionally good guitar solo which again really shows off what she can do with the guitar. Her vocals are again superb on this one too.
"Heavy Heart" this is another John Mayer like track which opens with a deep bass hook and then her bluesy "wah wah" notes come in. This opens very gently and her vocals are laid back and smoky with the smooth backing vocals. The simple guitar melody that runs through the track until just after the middle where her guitar comes in with a very Mayer like guitar solo which progresses.
"Watch em Burn" is an unmistakably Jimi Hendrix like track which moves along with verve and vigour, with features some great guitar work and the Bass and Drums add a great touch here as well. This is another very effective slice of Blues which is another toe tapper and also frenetic guitar track with the solo towards the end which is fast paced and very melodic with a great bass backing.
"Blackest Day" was a track written when Joanne was just 14 years old, This track opens with a gut wrenching blues melody and very emotive guitar from Shaw Taylor. This long musical intro sets you up for what's coming later. Her vocals come in with years of experience and pain. The guitar licks come throughout the track until the solo when she really lets loose on, this solo has a very progressive feel and just gets better and better until it is just awe inspiring.
This album would be considered great if it was by someone who was twice or more Joanne Shaw Taylor's age but considering she is just 23 and sings and plays like that!!!!! it is a remarkable album of beauty, virtuosity and grace in aplomb. This young woman from Birmingham, England is an awesome talent who if there's any justice will be around for some time making quality Blues, She has just released her debut album but I cannot wait for her second album to be released. SHE IS THAT GOOD!!!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Going Home
2 Just Another Word
4 Who Do You Want Me To Be?
5 Time Has Come
6 White Sugar
7 Kiss The Ground Goodbye
8 Heavy Heart
9 Watch 'em Burn
10 Blackest Day