Opinion on Joe Bonamassa – the prodigious guitar nerd who supported BB King aged 12, and now makes records with (Led Zep/Maiden/Rush producer) Kevin Shirley – roughly splits into two camps: those who love his playing, which has challenged and shaped 21st-century blues rock, and those who just see a boring twat in a suit.
Twelve albums in, can Blues Of Desperation change much? It’s certainly shaken things up chez Bonamassa. Where he previously leaned heavily on covers, this is now his second album of originals in a row. There are softer, and schmaltzier, moments , but overall it’s his rockiest, loosest solo LP in years.
It was a smart move. Opener This Train is so moreish we had to play it several times in succession. Momentum continues in the title track with its commanding, Zeppelin-esque mysticism and groove, while Distant Lonesome Train streamlines his stylish chops into a high-voltage blues-rock frame.
There are slower, less effectual burners as well, but there’s a raw authority not seen in his last couple of records; something that reinstates him as a gutsy rocker of flesh and bone, not just a virtuoso show pony.