Sound — 8
For the last few years I have asked myself how he does it? How does Joe Bonamassa release album after album of quality material? Just like his other albums, this album has a certain feel and vibe about it to the extent that any track taken from another album would sound out of place. He says it himself in the booklet you get with the album; "This album is a return to my roots, but an exploration at the same time" - this of which I agree. He has returned to a more raw blues sound but without sounding simple and cliche. His new riffs are for the most part, catchy and fresh. Take a listen to: "Stones In My Passway", "Lonely Town Lonely Street" and "Heavenly Soul" to hear great examples of great guitar work. For more typical bluesy riffs listen to: "Who's Been Talking", "I Got All You Need" and "New Coat Of Paint". His experimentation side reflects particularly in "Lonely Town Lonely Street" featuring a funky riff and a background guitar that wouldn't sound out of place on a Prince album, a nice addition to the album which he should explore more in his next album. The album once again features producer Kevin Shirley and executive producer Roy Weisman who both done an excellent job once again. So all in all, Joe is still sounding great.
Lyrics — 7
Joe experiments vocally on this album as well as instrumentally. This is most noticeable on "Heavenly Soul" and "Stones In My Passway". The experimentation being that he sings in a higher key on occasions and draws the notes out, although this I'm not 100% keen on really, I think next album he should focus on the vocal range he is used to. Lyrics for the most part are typical of a blues album, stand out lyrical tracks are: "Dislocated Boy", "New Coat Of Paint" and "Too Much Ain't Enough Love". Like his previous album "Dust Bowl", Joe sings along side another artist, only this time on one track at the end of the album featuring Jimmy Barnes, this gives off the same feel as the other songs from the album, whilst still remaining vocally fresh.
Overall Impression — 8
In comparison to his other albums, it doesn't quite match up to previous releases like "Sloe Gin" and "Dust Bowl" and it doesn't have the excellent variety of "The Ballad Of John Henry". However it does provide a better listen than albums like "Black Rock" and "So, It's Like That". My favourite songs from the album are: "Stones In My Passway", "Lonely Town Lonely Street" and "New Coat Of Paint". I like: - Lead guitar work is still first class. - Experimental guitar work on some tracks. - Various guitar sounds, no track sounds like a clone of the other one like on "Black Rock". - Overall Joe is still sounding great. I dislike: - His new experimental vocals on a couple of tracks. - Not enough slower, ballad-like songs like "The Great Flood" and "Happier Times" that he had on previous albums, shame because these are usually the best on the album. Overall, Joe has released another good album, new listeners will be instantly addicted if they are blues fans. Seasoned Joe Bonamassa fans (like myself) will sit back turn it up and enjoy another great deliverance from Smokin' Joe, despite a few minor hitches. It isn't an album I'm instantly addicted to, but there isn't much room for complaint to be fair. Well done again Joe! Lastly, just some information for the fans here: - Joe will be working on/releasing "Black Country Communion 3" this year. - Joe unbelievably starts work on his NEXT album at the end of August after a healthy dose of touring worldwide! He sure is a busy bee...