Sound — 9
Dust Bowl is a solid effort from Joe Bonamassa ranging in sound from country blues to overdriven blues-rock. The guitar work is solid throughout and phenomenal on several occasions. At times the solos brought goose bumps up on my arms, and emotion is almost dripping out of the speakers. While very well produced, the album has almost a live feel to it (in a good way) and I felt like I was in a really awesome blues club while listening to the album. There are 3 guest appearances on the album. Track 3, Tennessee Plates finds John Hiatt guesting on the track. Track8, Heartbreaker has Glenn Hughes guesting and track 11, Sweet Rowena has Vince Gill guesting.
The album starts with Slow Train which is the perfect track to open with the drums and guitar mimic a steam engine taking off and melds into a narrative blues song about leaving on the slow train. The guitar and drums periodically mimic train sounds during the song, and the solo is nothing but blues goodness.
The title track, Dust Bowl is a jangly, ethereal track really mixing somehow the feeling of being on a farm and being in outer space. The guitar work is very theme heavy throughout this track and makes me want to run into my den and pick up my guitar. This album has actually made me somewhat obsessed with Joe Bonamassa's vibrato technique and has me watching live YouTube performances trying to copy this living blues legend.
For my personal tastes the other stand-out tracks on Dust Bowl would be The Meaning of the Blues, Black Lung Heartache, The Last Matador of Bayonne and The Whale that Swallowed Jonah, but every song on the album is solid.
Lyrics — 8
Most of the tracks on Dust Bowl have a very narrative nature to the lyrics, and each song is a different story to sit back and listen to. Joe Bonamassa's voice continues to be excellent and always surprising to me, because it seems like his voice should be coming out of the mouth of a gray-haired blues veteran. The guest stars on the album compliment well with Joe Bonamassa's voice on the tracks they appear on.
About half of the songs on the album are written by Joe Bonamassa. Tennessee Plates was written by John Hiatt and John Porter. The Meaning of the Blues was written by Bobby Troup and Leah Worth. Heartbreaker was written by Paul Rodgers. No Love on the Street was written by Michael Kamen and Tim Curry. Sweet Rowena was written by Vince Gill and Pete Wasner. Prisoner was written by Karen Lawrence and John Desautels.
All the lyrics sound sincere and honest, even the tracks not written by Joe Bonamassa.
Overall Impression — 9
I discovered Joe Bonamassa about two years ago and he hasn't released an album I don't like since. I believe he's earning himself a place in blues royalty with his powerful guitar and lyrics. Honestly, the entire album is solid and easy to listen to I'm not a fan of country blues but even Tennessee Plates and Sweet Rowena are great tracks, and they are the most country tracks on the album. Joe Bonamassa is still very young in the world of blues but has already created a legacy of work to be proud of.
When I realized I almost forgot about the release of this album I made arrangements at work for a long lunch and rode into the next town to find the album in stock and listened to it on the way back to work, then again at work, then again when I went home. Dust Bowl easily stands up to Joe Bonamassa's other releases, which is saying a lot as each release is a very solid piece of work.