Friday, December 03, 2010

Joanne Shaw Taylor Smoldering Hard Rock Intensity

Listening to Joanne Shaw Taylor’s sultry, smokey vocals one is impressed by the passion she brings on her and how she builds, along with the swagger in her sometimes furious guitar. Her new Ruf release, “Diamonds in the Dirt,” certainly rocks hard and with her attractive looks, one can certainly anticipate her building a substantial following with her blues-tinged rock. Listening to the opening “Can’t Keep Living Like This,” we get taken along for a searing, driving solo that fades at the track’s end.

While she is on the cover of Blues Revue for an issue devoted on “Women in the Blues,” these ears do not hear much blues here, rather hard rock or blues-rock. I say this as an observation, not an evaluation of the music here. Listening to “Dead and Gone,” as she bellows out “when the morning comes, I’ll be dead and gone,” the performance is hard rock, even if their is some blues in her musical foundation. At the same time, she is adept in building her vocals as well as her jamming solos. But then again, a second track that fades at the end.

Same As It Never Was,” has a nice catchy lyric, a very attractive vocal, a nicely shaped guitar solo and a a bit of R&B inflection in the groove. “Jump That Train,” opens with some heavy layered and busy guitars as she belts out her lyric and another screaming guitar solo. The title track is an appealing song of love’s hurts and lessons that benefits from the more low-key accompaniment. “Let It Burn” is a heavy Stevie Ray Vaughan inspired shuffle with an angry vocal matching her lyrics and the hard rocking accompaniment and a searing solo and more singe the earth playing for the coda of this blues. The album closes with the wistful “The World and It’s Way,” which opens with her whispering her vocal as it nicely builds along with the accompaniment and a nice solo matched with some attractive wordless vocalizing to go with her sweet playing as the track and disc fades out.

For someone being marketed as a blues performer, I heard little blues in the performances here. While a British blues publication has the logo “Blues Without Blinders,” that does not mean blues is now a label for what even a decade ago would be regarded as hard rock. The fact that a singer and songwriter is a very accomplished guitarist (perhaps an understatement), does not make that person a blues artist. That said, Joanne Shaw Taylor is an extremely talented performer and especially when she keeps the fires smoldering, produces some very fine music performed and played with plenty of intensity.

Review copy supplied by Ruf Records’ publicity firm.

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