"A winning balance between maturity and raw, gut-punch blues": Joanne Shaw Taylor fuses blues and soul seamlessly on Heavy Soul

Soulful blues rocker Joanne Shaw Taylor matures without mellowing on ninth studio set

Joanne Shaw Taylor: Heavy Soul cover art
(Image: © Journeyman)

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Joanne Shaw Taylor's soulful vocals and lead guitar style drew praise from Annie Lennox and Stevie Wonder at the outset of her career, but she's earned her stripes the old-school way, putting in the hard yards on the road and in the studio. 

That said, there's nothing workmanlike about her song-focused approach to the blues, invigorated on Heavy Soul by the self-imposed challenge of attempting to blend the soul-pop direction of Nobody's Fool (2022) with her blues roots. 

Such an experiment could miss both targets, but Shaw Taylor achieves a seamless fusion that's a natural fit for her smoky vocal tone and stinging, articulate lead guitar lines, shading the blues-informed chord sequences of 10 filler-free songs with Motown-style beats (Drowning In A Sea Of Love) and gospel backing singers (Sweet Lit Lies, Wild Love).

Heavy Soul strikes a winning balance between maturity and raw, gut-punch blues.

Rich Davenport

Rich Davenport is a music journalist, stand-up comedian and musician, and has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock since 2016