The best new blues albums you can buy this month

Henry Yates on the latest releases from Joe Bonamassa, Devon Allman, The Coal Porters, Sari Schorr and Aynsley Lister

Joe Bonamassa photograph

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Joe Bonamassa - Live At The Greek Theatre

Like death and taxes – albeit more enjoyable than either – there’s a relentless inevitability about Joe Bonamassa’s output that means Live At The Greek Theatre risks being greeted with shrugged shoulders. To his credit, the blues man is perhaps wary of saturation, and here he arrives armed with a tantalising premise: saluting the ‘three Kings’ (that’s Albert, Freddie and BB) live in Los Angeles. The man has some brass neck, of course. But if last year’s Muddy Wolf showed Bonamassa could ape the vocal titans, then this 22-song concert proves he’s also a world-class guitarist.

Freddie could take no issue with horn-plumpened opener See See Baby and a screaming Going Down. The irascible Albert might even tolerate the dramatic chunking of Cadillac Assembly Line. But you sense it’s BB (who died two months before the tour began) who is the key touchstone, with Bonamassa smashing an exuberant Let The Good Times Roll and giving it his best one-note on The Thrill Is Gone. In the face of such mastery, apathy melts into admiration. (910)

Devon Allman - Ride Or Die

If Devon Allman’s split from Royal Southern Brotherhood seemed ill-advised, vindication is writ large on his return, which splices the smoky southern rock you’d expect (Say Your Prayers) with the soul (Find Ourselves) and a synth-driven Cure cover (A Night Like This) that you wouldn’t. He makes it all work, his adroit guitar performances and rich vocal lashing the tracklisting into a coherent statement. (810)

The Coal Porters - No.6

This alt.bluegrass band remain in a field of their own, dragging old-times instrumentation into fresh relevance with moments like The Day The Last Ramone Died (which recounts a visit to watch CBGB’s finest over fiddle and mandolin) and the lugubrious lilt of The Blind Bartender (about an unnamed LA grief-hole). Stick around, too, for the cowboy reimagining of Another Girl, Another Planet. (710)

Sari Schorr - A Force Of Nature

Mike Vernon doesn’t slide the faders for just anyone, and New York-based Sari Schorr justifies the veteran producer’s involvement with 12 cuts of superior bluster-blues. Vocally, Schorr is torn from the same cloth as Beth Hart, and though Oli Brown and Walter Trout guest, the strongest moments – including Ain’t Got No Money – find her bouncing off the supple guitar work of Innes Sibun. (710)

Aynsley Lister - Eyes Wide Open

Songs, not gratuitous chops, are Lister’s priority, and here the 39-year-old builds on 2013’s inventive Home with a collection of tracks that never quite do what you’re expecting. The gypsy-guitar intro of Il Grande Mafioso is brilliantly incongruous, Troubled Soul is an instrumental delicacy that resonates long after its 54 seconds, and Handful Of Doubt shows he can handle the tough stuff. (710)

The best new blues albums you can buy this month

Blues Round-up: May 2016

Blues Round-up: March 2016

Henry Yates

Henry Yates has been a freelance journalist since 2002 and written about music for titles including The Guardian, The Telegraph, NME, Classic Rock, Guitarist, Total Guitar and Metal Hammer. He is the author of Walter Trout's official biography, Rescued From Reality, a music pundit on Times Radio and BBC TV, and an interviewer who has spoken to Brian May, Jimmy Page, Ozzy Osbourne, Ronnie Wood, Dave Grohl, Marilyn Manson, Kiefer Sutherland and many more.