mon 22/07/2024

Album: Joanne Shaw Taylor - Heavy Soul | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Joanne Shaw Taylor - Heavy Soul

Album: Joanne Shaw Taylor - Heavy Soul

Poise and high energy

Taylor-made: the ninth studio album by the British blues-rock singer-guitarist

Heavy Soul, the ninth studio album by British blues-rock singer-guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor, is her first in two years, its 10 songs already released as singles. Produced by Kevin Shirley, whose credits include Aerosmith, Iron Maiden and Joe Bonamassa, whose indie label she joined a couple of years back with The Blues Album, its musical line-up features the fine talents of Doug Lancio, Anton Fig, Allison Presswood, Jimmy Wallace, and Rob McNelly.

Recorded in Nashville, the album features both JST originals and covers, including a faithful and fabulous version of “All the Way from America”, from Joan Armatrading’s 1980 album Me Myself I. A timeless classic and that rare thing – a rock anthem written by a woman. “Someone Like You” is still recognisable as Van Morrison, but her handling is thrilling – a big-hearted, smoky and soulful vocal with spine-tingling guitar and piano. “Devil in Me” (another searing guitar solo), with its call-and-response, is pure gospel, while “Change of Heart”, written with Beth Nielsen Chapman, brings the album to a barnstorming close even as the lyric speaks of vulnerability and daring to take the risk for love.

“Black Magic” which began life as an instrumental, is down and dirty New Orleans, driven by an insistent beat and featuring a mouthwatering piano solo as well as JST’s fiery guitar work. “Drowning in a Sea of Love”, an early Seventies hit for Joe Simon, is appropriately retro. The title track, JST's Fender Squire screaming away, feels like the climactic moment in a concert – but then she dials it down with the funk-tinged “Wild Love”.

Taylor is on the cover of this month’s Blues in Britain, the magazine she read avidly as she was growing up in the Midlands. She’s picked up lots of blues honours since Dave Stewart set her on the path to success when she was just 16 and, still not quite 40, she walks the hyphens of blues-rock-soul with geat poise, and the high energy of her performance is breathtaking – and I haven’t yet seen her live. The acts are very different of course – JST is not (yet) a larger-than-life figure, and she’s unlikely ever to gyrate in sequined miniskirts – but musically I kept being reminded of Tina Turner, even though she never was an axewoman. Go, Jo, go.

Liz Thomson's website

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