CD Reviews

Joanne Shaw Taylor - 'Almost Always Never' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 20, 2012    
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The best album of her career to date.

Joanne Shaw Taylor was something of a revelation to me when it came to reviews this month. I unwittingly saw her live, with no prior knowledge of her work or any idea who she was, when she supported Glenn Hughes on one of his solo tours a year or two back. She was original and when her new album arrived in my promo pile I checked it out first. Boy was I glad I did!

Joanne has many things going for her – she has a distinctive singing voice which can delivery a variety of emotions, she’s an extremely talented guitarist and on this, her third solo album, she has settled into the role of skilled songwriter. Her previous two solo albums, the acclaimed ‘White Sugar’ and the excellent ‘Diamonds In The Dirt’ saw her mining the blues rock vein in a power trio format. ‘Almost Always Never’ shows her stretching out with more textures, via keyboards, piano, mandolin and acoustic guitars, and the results are sublime.

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‘Soul Station’ is a groovy opener with Joanne’s smoky voice to the fore. ‘Beautifully Broken’ treads bluesy ground, with both Joanne’s guitar playing and vocals reminiscent of Richie Kotzen. This is an early standout with some gorgeous keyboard parts nestling underneath the lead lines. The upbeat acoustic effort ‘You Should Stay And I Should Go’ also breaks new ground for Joanne and works superbly. ‘Piece Of The Sky’ is another fine blues track with some excellent organ playing carrying the mood, before the more stripped down ‘Army Of One’ introduces itself as yet another new direction for Shaw to explore. Known for writing her own material, Joanne covers Frankie Miller’s excellent ‘Jealousy’ with terrific results, meshing the song perfectly with her own tracks while paying homage to Miller’s original. The title track is a superb example of breezy blues-rock and deserves its place at the centre of the record.

I could easily blow my word count raving, but suffice to say the whole album is not lacking in quality. The rocking ‘Tied And Bound’, the gentle catchiness of ‘A Hand In Love’, the powerhouse ‘Standing To Fall’, the twanging blues of ‘Maybe Tomorrow’ or the melancholy ‘Lose Myself To Loving You’ - there’s no fault to be found. This record has a hold over me (and me: Reviews Ed) which demands repeated plays, and gets better with each one. Her previous two albums were good, but here Joanne has expanded her horizons.

If you are new to her work, this is a fantastic place to start. If you are already aware of her talent, sit back and prepare to enjoy the best album of her career to date.

James Gaden

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