After years of covers-heavy albums – alongside a chunky roster of side projects and collaborations – this is now Joe Bonamassa’s second all-original solo LP (save one or two residual covers). And it’s rather good.
It’s been well established, since he first played with BB King as a 12-year-old, that Joe’s a good guitarist. An excellent one, in fact. His pure songwriting credentials, however, have played a more secondary role – despite some excellent own-compositions over the years (e.g. Bridge To Better Days, Dirt In My Pocket…). Until now.
So, can he hold his own with his own tunes? In short, yes – with the help of some Nashville songwriting heavyweights, and longtime producer/driving force Kevin Shirley, who sought to “get some aggression out of Joe”. Immediately Blues Of Desperation is a looser, rockier beast than his previous records of late; though the likes of Drive provide softer, acoustic contrasts. This Train bursts out in a sparky blast of goodtime bluesy rock’n’roll, while Distant Lonesome Train (good album for trains…) is a million times more primal and propulsive than the title sounds. But it’s the triumphant, Zeppelin-esque title track that really proves the rock substance of this record – a hypnotic blend of eastern mysticism, modern blues and a deliciously fluid riff that we can’t get enough of.
It’s super slick, of course it is, but it sounds like the work of a living, breathing rock musician having a great time – rather than a shiny, blues guitar machine (as, arguably, some of his work has leaned towards). And for that, we highly recommend Blues Of Desperation.