Dust Bowl Review

artist: Joe Bonamassa date: 03/30/2011 category: compact discs
Joe Bonamassa: Dust Bowl
Released: Mar 22, 2011
Genre: Blues Rock
Label: J&R Adventures
Number Of Tracks: 12
"Dust Bowl" is Joe Bonamassa's 9th solo album, and continues his streak of releasing a new album about once a year without compromising quality. "Dust Bowl" is an eclectic blues-rock album, going from country blues to intense overdriven blues.
 Sound: 8.5
 Lyrics: 8.5
 Overall Impression: 8.5
 Overall rating:
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reviews (2) 13 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8.7
Dust Bowl Featured review by: UG Team, on march 30, 2011
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 9

Lyrics: 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. // 8

Overall Impression: 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. // 9

- Brandon East (c) 2011

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overall: 8.3
Dust Bowl Reviewed by: Smokinjoerules1, on march 30, 2011
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Joe Bonamassa has released yet another great album! Dust Bowl has some excellent tracks on and only 1 or 2 average tracks. His sound has gradually changed album by precious album throughout the last 4-5 years since the making of "You & Me". Each album has managed to sound different; yet he has kept his signature sound, both guitar and vocals alike. If there is a story attached to this album, then it is based around Bonamassa himself who said in an interview to promote the album that: "I was doing so much at once, I felt like I was living in a dust bowl", that appears to be the only story other than the obvious songs themselves that is attached to this album. It may be his life story, I'm not sure. In "Dust Bowl", Joe called upon several friends to record certain songs with him with the likes of: John Hiatt, Glenn Hughes and Vince Gill. This brings a brand new feel to Joe's work and freshens up the album with influences from all those vocalists in the songs they sing on. These duets are thankfully better than his duet with BB. King, which could've been better. Also, listen closely to the end of the album track "Dust Bowl", I swear the guy who speaks in a low tone at the end is the guy from several Michael Jackson songs including: "Thriller" and "Threatened". Overall another great sound here from Joe, with the last track having a very 80s vibe to it, so much so that it wouldn't be out of place being played on an 80s cop show or a film like "Top Gun", the guitar is that 80s-ish! // 8

Lyrics: Before the album was released, Joe stated that the lyrics on this album were going to be a lot more developed than the typical "My baby left me" lyrics of blues music. He was correct, his lyrics stand out most on tracks like: Dust Bowl The Last Matador of Bayonne No Love on the Street and Prisoner Lyrics fit very well with the music, none of them feel out of place apart from on "Black Lung Heartache" in which a certain line saying: "Hang on, hang on... Black Lung Heartache" doesn't make much sense to me. other than that well developed and great lyrics on Joe's own songs. // 9

Overall Impression: Now comes the track breakdown into what I personally think of them all: 01. Slow Train - 7/10 This track starts off slowly like a train just setting off which is cleverly done I must say. Ends up being a fairly good song with a good solo to it, that's probably the highlight to the song. 02. Dust Bowl - 10/10 This track is one of the best Joe has ever produced! It starts off with slow organ playing, followed by the rest of the instruments all at once, the guitar riff on it is one of the simplest yet most effective Joe has ever come up with, it's simply just 4 notes! The lyrics are catchy and the solo is immense and fits so well with the song! A Bonamassa classic here! 03. Tennessee Plates - 7/10 This the track he recorded with John Hiatt. It brings a new feel to Joe's music, a more bluegrass approach to what he'd usually record. A good song, which I actually heard being played in HMV. 04. The Meaning of the Blues - 8/10 Another slightly different sound to what we're used to hearing from Joe, quite heavy with a "dark-lit street" feel to it, with another good solo to accompany. 05. Black Lung Heartache - 9/10 One of the more stand out tracks from this album, simply because of the weird stringed instruments used in it ( I have no idea what they are), gives off the same feel as the track "India" on "Sloe Gin", except with vocals. 06. You Better Watch Yourself - 7/10 One of the more typical Blues songs we're used to hearing, although it manages to sound less cliche with some great lead guitar work! 07. The Last Matador of Bayonne - 10/10 One of the great tracks of the album, a slow pace just like "The Great Flood", great lyrics and great guitar work (again), just a great track! 08. Heartbreaker - 6/10 The song with Glenn Hughes in, not really much to say about this track, it's ok I guess. 09. No Love on the Street - 8/10 Another track style we're not used to from Joe, doesn't mean it isn't good though, he certainly keeps things fresh on this album! Yet another good solo to go with it. 10. The Whale That Swallowed Jonah - 9/10 More what we're used to hearing. Catchy lyrics and some more good guitar improv work from Joe! 11. Sweet Rowena - 9/10 This track has a big BB. King feel to it. Sung with Vince Gill, it's probably the best duet on the album. It's not slow at all, it kicks off straight into the vocals with great lyrics. Joe seems to take more of a backseat on this song with Vince singing the most. Joe's playing on this track is quite refreshing as well, no idea why. 12. Prisoner - 9/10 Here's the 80s dwelling track! If you are quite an established guitar player like me, then this song is an improvisation candy shop, play along at will to see what you come up with ;) The track itself is very good and finishes off the album nicely. Overall, another very good album from Joe Bonamassa, not his best work, but Sloe Gin and John Henry did take some beating! Buy this album if you are: a) A blues fan b) Play guitar, other metal music (even though I do) c) Want some fresh 21st century blues // 8

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