Joanne Shaw Taylor review September 8 2012…

JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR

ALMOST ALWAYS NEVER

RUF RECORDS 1181

SOUL STATION–BEAUTIFULLY BROKEN–YOU SHOULD STAY, I SHOULD GO–PIECE OF THE SKY–ARMY OF ONE–JEALOUSY ALMOST ALWAYS NEVER–TIED AND BOUND–A HAND IN LOVE–STANDING TO FALL–MAYBE TOMORROW–LOSE MYSELF TO LOVING YOU

 

For her latest album for Ruf  Records, label prez Thomas Ruf took Joanne Shaw Taylor somewhat out of her “comfort zone” from her first two albums, this time pairing her with producer Mike McCarthy and recording “Almost Always Never” in Austin, TX, as opposed to Jim Gaines’ Memphis studios.   As a result, these twelve cuts find her experimenting with some very funky, edgier grooves without losing any of the power and emotion supplied in her first two sets.

For this set, composed of eleven originals and one really cool Frankie Miller cover, she is joined by David Garza on keys, Billy White on bass and acoustic slide, and J. J. Johnson on drums.

The set kicks off with a sweet riff that propels “Soul Station,” a tale dealing with battling one’s addictions, where “the new trend is to depend on a head held high to reason.”  It segues’ into a near-Hendrixian guitar assault from Joanne in its fiery climax.   A lover locked in a battle with his own “emotional pride” in a “place where persist and prevail collide” is the theme of “Tied And Bound,” with a great sultry-to-growling vocal.  “Standing To Fall” is another sweet slab of blues-rock that lets Joanne show off her guitar chops in its jam-like, Allman-esque finish.  The set closes with the tender “Lose Myself To Loving You,” which finds Joanne at love’s crossroads, finally deciding to cut her losses rather than stay and fight.

 

We had two favorites, too.  Joanne and Billy White play “dueling” acoustic guitars in “Army Of One,” while Frankie Miller’s “Jealousy” is given a dazzling minor-key treatment here, with David Garza’s B-3 swirling over Joanne’s snarling guitar lines and angst-ridden vocals.

 

Joanne Shaw Taylor just keeps getting better and more mature with each release.  She was tabbed by Annie Lennox to play guitar in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration, and “Almost Always Never” solidifies her place as one of the best in contemporary blues!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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