British Guitar Sensation Joanne Shaw Taylor Reignites Sony’s Silvertone Label With“Wild”Reissue (ALBUM REVIEW)

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Joanne Shaw Taylor’s (JST) final Ruf recording was the terrific live CD/DVD Songs from the Road. After leaving Ruf, JST made two albums that received little distribution in the U.S. – The Dirty Truth (2014) and this one, Wild (2016). Now that JST has signed with Sony and their newly relaunched Silvertone imprint, she’s agreed to make three albums beginning next year and the label is putting out these two releases.  The term “blues influenced” is now the way JST and producer Kevin Shirley describe this newly re-issued effort.

“It’s a little bit different,” says Joanne about the album, her fifth studio recording.  She could easily say that it’s not as wild as previous efforts too. In the hands of Shirley, who has made a megastar of Joe Bonamassa, Joanne is at times more restrained and in several places exploring R&B and jazz in addition to her patented blues rock.  This is an album of songs, not, like the live one mentioned above, an exercise in shredding. Shirley is based in Nashville and drew stellar session players, some of whom have played with Bonamassa. Additionally, noted songwriters James House and Gary Nicholson are JST’s prominent co-writers.

In the opener “Dyin’ to Know,” JST’s edgy raw style is immediately recognizable but the supporting cast of guitarist Rob McNelly, acclaimed bassist Michael Rhodes and in-demand drummer Greg Morrow provide a depth not heard on her previous efforts.  Her vocals have never sounded more expressive and while there is some repetition in a few places, this is a more varied effort, full of surprising textures and even finesse. Backup singers Mahalia Bares, Juanita Tippins and Jade MacRae support JST on several selections, best exemplified by the call and response in “Nothin’ to Lose.”  JST teamed with Leon Russell and Nicholson for “My Heart’s Got a Mind of its Own,” an R&B styled tune featuring the horns of trumpeter Lee Thornburg and saxophonist Paulie Cerra.

The other incendiary rave-ups include: “I’m In Chains,” “Wanna Be My Lover,” ‘Ready to Roll,” and “Get You Back.”  While they represent the core of her sound, they are not the highlights here. On ‘No Reason to Stay” her picking is crisp against the moody piano chords of Steve Nathan. The epic title track “Wild Is The Wind” is a cover of a tune done by David Bowie, beginning as a ballad where she delivers an amazingly smoky, soulful vocal and pays it off with a blistering guitar excursion to close it out. “I Wish I Could Wish You Back” reveals a seldom seen tender approach of acoustic guitar and gentle slide. Coming off the hard rocker “Nothin’ to Lose” she turns to Gershwin’s “Summertime,” using Janis and Big Brother and the HC’s arrangement.  Thankfully she doesn’t do the overwrought singing that many do when covering this tune and instead phrases it uniquely, more in a jazz style. Her inventive guitar solos also set this apart to beautifully close this solid album, by far her best studio effort.

Joanne is part-time in both Detroit, MI and Birmingham, England. She’ll be touring intimate venues from mid-August through mid-September with a trio and promises to play much of this material. Even if you’re not a blues-rock fan, suggest you catch her act.  With her ever growing vocal delivery and inventive soloing, she is several cuts above the rest.

 

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