Joanne Shaw Taylor with special guest Zach Person
Critically acclaimed British guitarist and singer songwriter, Joanne Shaw Taylor, universally hailed as the UK’s premiere blues rock guitarist, is announcing the release of her seventh studio full-length record The Blues Album on Friday September 17, 2021. Today she also shares a new single, “Let Me Down Easy” along with a companion music video.
The album will be released via Joe Bonamassa’s independent blues label KTBA Records. It was produced and recorded by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. The hotly tipped 11-track album features Joanne’s personalised covers of eleven rare blues classics originally recorded by Albert King, Peter Green, Little Richard, Magic Sam, Aretha Franklin, Little Milton, and many more.
The Blues Album, the follow up to 2019’s critically acclaimed album Reckless Heart, features Josh Smith (guitar), Reese Wynans (keyboards), Greg Morrow (drums), Steve Mackey (bass), Steve Patrick (trumpet), Mark Douthit (sax), Barry Green (trombone). Joe Bonamassa plays guitar and sings on the track “Don’t Go Away Mad.” Mike Farris also joins as a special guest on “I Don’t Know What You’ve Got.” “I’d known from the beginning of my recording career that one day I wanted to record an album of blues covers, I just wasn’t sure when the right time to do that would be,” says Joanne. “I’ve always found it far easier to write my own material than come up with creative ways to make other artists’ material my own.”
When the pandemic put the brakes on from musicians from touring during 2020 and most of 2021, Joanne thought it was the right time to head into the studio to record The Blues Album. “I mentioned my new project idea to Joe Bonamassa,” recalls Joanne. “He asked me for my song choices. Immediately he began sending me notes and was texting me song suggestions.” Joanne and Joe have been best friends and fans of each other’s music for many years. Joanne always wanted to work with Joe if the right project or collaboration came about.
“He was already acting as a mentor as well as an unofficial producer on The Blues Album, so I asked him if he’d fancy the job, officially,” says Joanne. “Thankfully, he accepted. The Blues Album has been everything I hoped it would be. It’s been a labor of love, overseen by an artist, producer, and friend who I trust beyond measure. “We wanted to make a tough vocal centric straight blues record that showcases Joanne’s amazing talent but in a slightly different light," explains Bonamassa. “Joanne is a dear friend and a superstar. Josh and I focused on testing her limits and pushing boundaries that might not have occurred before. It's all about making a statement and having the listener want to play the music repeatedly."
Joanne’s covers album pays tribute to artists and bands that are not obvious choices including Little Village, Little Milton, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, James Ray, but, at the same time, she covers seminal blues icons including Albert King, Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green and Magic Sam. Some of the songs covered are B-sides of singles. “We try not to live in the well-worn trails of the blues,” explains Bonamassa. “Each song has to has to stand on its own while paying tribute to the original masters."
“Joe made it known from the get-go that his main objective for this album was to push me as a singer,” recalls Joanne. “Obviously, Joe has seen me perform many times over the years and knows my voice well. I think he felt that he could my vocal performance more, and get more out of it, especially since I’d had over a year to rest my vocal cords.”
As a musician and a recording and performing artist, Joe Bonamassa has always been a fan of Joanne’s music. Ultimately, what did Bonamassa set out to achieve by co-producing this magnificent, rich, and beautifully recorded and performed album for Joanne? Joe explains, “If you focus on what people might not associate with an artist and work hard on those areas it allows her fans to discover things and sets her up in a different light. Joanne’s a great singer and always has been. The guitar unfortunately has over-shadowed it until now. A lot of us in the business have the same problem. "
“On the new album, I mostly played my own guitar, my 1966 Esquire ‘Junior’,” says Joanne. “I tried to use a few of Joes Tele’s, but they’re set up for much bigger hands than mine. I did use Joe’s vintage amps - I believe one of his 60’s Vibroverbs mixed with a fumble overdrive for pretty much all of it. We didn’t use any pedals.”
It goes without saying that the production team of Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith are at the top of their game. They recently produced new albums for Joanna Connor, Jimmy Hall, and Eric Gales. Joanna Connor’s album, 4801 South Indiana Avenue, met with great critical acclaim worldwide, was the second album released on Bonamassa’s independent label KTBA Records and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Blues Chart.
“Joe and Josh make a fantastic team,” insists Joanne. “Both bring something different to the table that the other maybe couldn’t. I loved working with them. I was worried about working with Joe for obvious reasons, (we are very close friends), but you never know how that will translate into a working relationship. It was cool to work with two guys not much older than me. Most of the producers I’ve worked with so far haven’t been so close to me in age, plus Joe and Josh have the added benefit of understanding what it is to tour on the same scene as me and what me touring this album will look like. All in all, it was a very relaxed fun session and hang.”