JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR – Almost Always Never

Joanne Shaw Taylor - Almost Always Never

Ruf Records RUF 1181 [Release date 17.09.12]

Joanne Shaw Taylor has made much progress in the past few years, ultimately gaining a growing reputation on the other side of the pond where fans have evidently warmed to her US-influenced blues rock.  Now resident in the U.S., and last seen here alongside Annie Lennox at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee gig.   And it has to be said looking a little like fish out of water.  I don’t think many would be asking “who the hell was that blonde guitar bombshell?”  like they did when Orianthi accompanied Michael Jackson at his fated comeback rehearsals.

Joanne’s third album is perhaps the most satisfying so far combining as it does her direct no-frills delivery and giving her the space for some more extended jammed-out pieces such as the hypnotic ‘Maybe Tomorrow’.

If there is a criticism, as previously there is a lack of truly standout tracks.  Joanne Shaw Taylor makes consistently solid albums and this latest offering will surely appeal to her growing fanbase but she does need some more, dare I say, commercial tracks to round out what is essentially a fully-formed approach from one of our best blues rockers.

Apart from those jammed-out set pieces she easily reverts to somewhat perfunctory rhythm and blues recalling the likes of Susan Tedeschi, as on ‘Beautifully Broken’ and ‘Piece Of The Sky.’  A few more wig-outs wouldn’t go amiss in the style of the rumbustuous ‘Tied & Bound’ and ‘Standing To Fall’.  Very much a guitarist’s album, David Garza’s keyboards are somewhat buried  for the most part.

Whilst her soulful, throaty  vocals are convincing, you can’t help thinking that they are a tad forced and in truth at times irritatingly monotone, a Birmingham gal singing like she comes from Alabama rather than west of Aston.  You either get it or you don’t.

Producer Mike McCarthy has captured Joanne’s earthiness which is perhaps best demonstrated on the opening track ‘Soul Station’ and the whole album has a convincing “nailed in a  few takes” vibe as best evidenced on the acoustic blues shuffle ‘Army Of One’.  All expertly executed but perhaps too lacking in light and shade to make this truly essential .

****

Review by David Randall

Joanne Shaw Taylor’s UK tour starts 9 October.   More: www.joanneshawtaylor.com


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