CD Reviews

Joe Bonamassa - 'Dust Bowl' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 18, 2011    
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The best album I've heard so far this year!

Hot on the heels of the massively successful Black Country Communion album, Joe Bonamassa returns with his 12th full length solo release, 'Dust Bowl'. Far from fading under the gaze of public attention that Bonamassa has received since the tender age of 12 when no less than BB King singled him out as a unique talent, Joe has grown with every album and I doubt there is a more inspirational guitarist out there right now. Whether the BCC experience has rubbed off on him or not, 'Dust Bowl' sees Bonamassa add a harder edge to some of the blues based tracks on this album, which results in an album that doesn't only contain phenomenal guitar playing (was there ever any doubt of that?), but twelve fantastic, eclectic songs.

The title track from the album has already been receiving heavy airplay on rock radio and as an introduction to this CD, it really is a stonking,  atmospheric, mid paced rocker of the highest calibre. Bonamassa punctuates a steady keyboard rumble with licks and riffs that build a tremendously evocative picture. Add to that the even, easy vocal style that Bonamassa has slowly improved on with every passing year and you really are presented with a song already worthy of the tag "classic". It is a trick that is repeated on the Paul Rodgers written 'Heartbreaker', which also features Joe's BCC band mate Glenn Hughes on vocals, with the pair duetting to great effect. 'Dust Bowl' however is no one trick pony, there's everything from the stomping blues of 'You Better Watch Yourself', the up tempo bluegrass thwack and twang of 'Tennessee Plates' or the heart wrenching, blues guitar wail of 'No Love On The Street'. The latter especially lets Joe illustrate just how fantastically well he and his band build a song into a crescendo of crashing cymbals, howling lead breaks and throbbing bass lines, without ever losing sight of the simple melodies that made it such a compelling listen in the first place.

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To be honest, it is actually hard to work out which songs not to mention, as whether it is straight ahead rock of 'The Whale That Swallowed Jonah', the beautifully arranged mandolins and guitars of the intro to 'Black Lung Heartache', which then explodes into the most potent, grinding piece of blues rock you'll hear all year, or 'Prisoner', which makes for a plaintive, yet compelling end to the album, the quality doesn't dip once. Guitarist Vince Gill also turns up to add even more vocal and six string oomph to the shuffle of 'Sweet Rowena' and his signature guitar styling can also be found on the aforementioned 'Tennessee Plates', where Joe also duets with John Hiatt.

Never overshadowed by his special guests, Joe Bonamassa has created an album that oozes class at every turn and I can not only comfortably say that is the best solo work of his career (I personally think it eclipses Black Country Communion as well), but the best album I've heard so far this year!

Steven Reid

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