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Joe Bonamassa – Different Shades of Blue

September 23rd, 2014
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When Black Country Communion split the different factions went different directions. While Joe Bonamassa returned to “full time solo artist”, Glenn Hughes and Jason Bonham joined forces with guitarist Andrew Watt and created California Breed. The betting at the time was California Breed would be an exciting new band, and Bonamassa would continue to make serviceable, yet sort of boring albums. The betting was wrong. California Breed’s debut album was a dreary 45 minutes of Glenn Hughes screamers, uninteresting and uninspired volume-rock.

Bonamassa, on the other hand, has returned with a fantastic blues album called Different Shades of Blue. The album features Bonamassa playing in various different blues formats and playing guitar better than he ever has. As a player he is, in fact, on fire throughout the album. Vocally, Bonamassa sounds like he learned a few lessons in his time beside Glenn Hughes, and he has a more versatile singing range than he has shown previously.

My hopes were not high for Different Shades of Blue in large part because his last album, Driving Towards the Daylight was so disappointing. Full of mediocre songs that lacked life, my personal expectations were not good that he could re-reach the form of The Ballad of John Henry a few albums back. But things changed when he released the single for the title track a month back. It is a pure guitarists blues song. And Bonamassa is brilliant on it, having a “Since I’ve Been Loving You” performance (guitarists can offer no higher praise). I keep re-listening to it, and I have been trying to figure out, when was the last time an established artist had a song this good? and I can’t come up with the answer. Possibly Springsteen somewhere on The Rising album. Maybe I have to go back as far as 1992 and Delbert McCLinton’s Everytime I Roll The Dice.

But the album doesn’t start and end with Different Shades of Blue. It is the best song, bar none, on an album full of great performances of great songs. Oh Beautiful!, Love Ain’t a Love Song, Heartache Follows Wherever I Go,So, What Would I Do are all excellent. And while some songs do suffer from Bonamassa’s tendency towards feeling soulless, those are few and by no means lousy songs. There is, in fact, not a bad song on the album, and more than a few great ones.

Different Shades of Blue will be released today and can be bought at your usual online sources, but really, run to the store and get it now. It’s simply too good to wait.


Tracklist

Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)
Oh Beautiful!
Love Ain’t a Love Song
Living on the Moon
Heartache Follows Wherever I Go
Never Give All Your Heart
I Gave Up Everything For You
Different Shades of Blue
Get Back my Tomorrow
Trouble Town
So, What Would I Do

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