Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl

The New York State bluesman channels the soil of the south.

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There’s a reason that Joey Bones has so authoritatively carved his way to the forefront of the Next Generation blues-rock pack, and it isn’t just because he can get his fingers to scamper all quick- like around the fretboard of a Les Paul and do that pained-hollery vocal thing.

It’s because he has a sophisticated appreciation of, and respect for, blues rock as a form in its own right, with its own aesthetic and its own value: not simply blues heading towards rock because that’s where the money is, or rock heading towards blues because that’s where the authenticity and credibility are.

Dust Bowl is the best so far of his dozen solo albums, although the 2008 live album From Nowhere In Particular serves sterling duty as a ‘Previously…’ for peeps who fancy playing catch-up with his story-so-far. The title and cover might suggest that it’s a roots-move folkie essay in Depression-era Cooderiana, but any acoustic intros you might hear simply set up some most excellent examples of his trademarked blues-rock thumpasaurus rex.

From the ear-grabbing intro of the curtain-raising Slow Train through Tennessee Plates – a catchy grab for post-Brad-Paisley country airplay co-written and co-sung by John Hiatt and co-guitared by Vince Gill – and a rocking romp through Little Walter’s You Better Watch Yourself, to the soulful close-out of Prisoner, the man is on seriously fiery form.

Powerful but not power-crazed, deeply-felt and ingeniously textured, Dust Bowl is a treat and a half. By the way, there is also a vocal cameo for Glenn Hughes.