Stir yourselves bluesfolk because singer/songwriter-arch blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor is here! This week I am excited to review her White Sugar album and right from the opening track you just know that this is going to be more than a sweetening agent – instead, it’s a classic keeper that you will return to again and again. Every track is noteworthy for different reasons and the fact that she - except for one cover -has penned the entire album herself would make any skeptic believe in the power of channeling from beyond the grave, because this young slip of a Brit is somehow harnessing the essence of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert Collins and presenting a level of intelligent playing that is nothing less than stunning.
And you will notice that I have avoided saying for a girl because really, why would I?
Joanne Shaw Taylor is only 23 years old which is mind blowing since her vocals convey the strength and experience of someone twice that age. Like other white artists who have embraced the blues though, she does hail from industrial Britain and that provides a very special grit not available in stores. Raw and husky when necessary – think Joss Stone with ‘tude or Sass Jordon combined with one shot Melissa Etheridge – Joanne can also turn tender and soulful when the need arises. The result is an original sound that provides the perfect vehicle for her strong guitar presence – I can only imagine what she would be like to see live because there is so much power in this Jim Gaines produced album. And it’s impressive that aside from two backing singers – Vicky and Heather, I love that understated billing – there are only three musicians featured here: Joanne herself on vocals and guitar, David Smith bass guitar and Steve Potts on drums.
Joanne Shaw Taylor is a major talent well deserving of a much broader audience – turn it up and stand back. Be sure to sample some of the material below – you’ll love it!
Going Home is the opening track and sets the tone for what is to come big time. Joanne’s vocals are sand blasted and steamy and the guitar work is superb – listen up.
Watch ‘em Burn is a great late night rouser with plenty of opportunities for Joanne to show off her ability to solo which is apparently effortless. A touch of Status Quo at the beginning too although, technically, she’s not nearly old enough for any of the influences that she displays!
Blackest Day sounds more like SRV than well, Stevie Ray Vaughan! Love this one and the extended bends and cumulative build-up are extremely sensual.