I’ve reviewed a lot of Joe Bonamassa albums over the years including his side project bands Black Country Communion and Rock Candy Funk Party but this is the first Joe Bonamassa solo album where he has written every song on the album himself (except for the intro track which is a short version of a Hendrix tune). Among blues guitarists it has become something of a tradition to cover classic blues songs with your own arrangement as a nod to the greats while giving the song a fresh new sound for new audiences to experience. This album, ‘Different Shades of Blue’ sounds like Joe is covering classic blues songs from many different eras and sub-genres, except he isn’t, they are his songs and that makes this album even more of a standout record for me. Now of course there are a few tracks that are classic Bonamassa such as ‘Never Give All Your Heart’ which has great Rock/Blues riffs in the chorus and laid back verses. Also the title track ‘Different Shades of Blue’ “sounds” like a Joe Bonamassa song (with a bit of Eagles influence).
Now can I please ask you first time you hear this album to not just hit shuffle, play the opening instrumental excerpt (just over a minute) from the Hendrix track ‘Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)’, then brace yourself for the 70’s rock riffs of ‘Oh Beautiful!’ which instantly took me back to hearing Black Country Communion for the first time, total Jimmy Page riffs and John Bonham beats, love it (check out 2:48 in the video below). Ok so by track 2 you think you know where this album is heading when along comes track 3 ‘Love Ain’t a Love Song’ which is straight out of a Rock Candy Funk Party setlist, full horn section and funk beats. It just keeps changing pace, changing style, different shades of blue indeed. It reminded me of listening to Eric Clapton’s ‘From The Cradle’ (except they were covers), the fast shuffle of ‘Living on the Moon’, the slow grinding riff of ‘Heartache Follows Wherever I Go’, the slide blues track ‘I Gave Up Everything for You, ‘Cept the Blues’, complete with “doo-wop” backing vocals, honky tonk piano and stabbing horns, definitely one of the album highlights.
I don’t really need to mention guitar tones when I’m talking about a Joe Bonamassa album, just take it from me that Joe gets some of the best recorded tones you will hear from his Les Pauls, Strats and myriad of Vintage amps and effects. You can check out some of those tones in the video below which features a few tracks.
“It’s definitely my favourite Joe Bonamassa record to date,” said producer Kevin Shirley. “It’s an album that deserves to be listened to in its entirety. Luckily Joe’s fan base really seems to appreciate a body of work and not just songs.”
‘A Different Shade of Blue’ will be released in the UK on Monday September 22nd (Mascot / Provogue).