It’s official – people from Birmingham can play the blues – and blues rock, despite being pounded relentlessly for some five decades, still has life in it. Joanne Shaw Taylor’s album doesn’t push back any envelopes stylistically but that’s the worst that can be said for what’s
The lyrical content of tracks like Mud, Honey, the story of a gangster whose life has caught up with him is a little lost in Taylor’s formidable, rasping vocal delivery but that’s no matter as these are songs you’ll be happy to familiarise yourself with over repeated listenings and are worth that close attention.
Still more impressive is her playing, which channels Hendrix rather than imitates his emotions, capturing his raw, bending sensuality on Feels Like Home. It’s actually Hendrix who could have benefitted from her storytelling sensibility, on the title track, for instance, about trying to deal with a violent partner. Taylor slides into country vein naturally here and then into tender soul phrasing on Wicked Soul. This is mature and accomplished stuff indeed.