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If You Buy One New Album Out This Week, Make It...

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.

Polly is Features Editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage) and writes a few things. She also writes for Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer, and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.