Thursday, December 27, 2012

Almost Always Never reviewed by Harmonica Joe Poluyanskis

Almost Always Never
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Ruf Records
12 tracks

Joanne Shaw Taylor has just released “Almost Always Never” from Ruf Records. This is her 3rd CD which is quite an accomplishment for bring only 26 years old. Taylor, from England, has been playing guitar, singing, writing lyrics andperforming her music for well over 10 years now. She has received rave reviews in Brit-ain and also has won several awards for her music. In 2010 she won the best female vocalist award at the British Blues Awards and in 2011 she won best female vocalist and song writer for her song from “Diamonds In The Dirt” also at the British Blues Awards. Her main guitar influences are Albert Collins, Jimmie Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn and BB King. The Hendrix effect is very noticeable in her music. Joanne has one of those voices that has all the elements present to sing the blues with feeling, realness and meaning. Over the years she has paid attention to the greats of the genre while developing her own style, lyrics and sound.

“Almost Always Never” is filled with 12 tracks with lyrics from Joanne. These hit on a di-verse range of subject matter but have been said before. Recorded in Austin Texas, Tay-lor enlisted the talents of Davis Garza on keyboards and mandolin, J.J. Johnson on drums and Billy White playing bass and slide guitar. Put this mix together with her guitar playing and voice and it is a very strong mix of musicians.
Opening the CD with “Soul Station” Joanne puts forth a strong example of her lyrics, raspy, sultry vocals and powerful ear grab-bing style of guitar licks and runs. By all standards Taylor is an awesome guitar player. J.J. Johnson pounds out a strong, noticeable drum line that takes this tune down the road. David Garza adds some catchy keyboards to the mix also. This tune, about pulling one’s self up and going on from your problems, is perhaps the most blues filled track on this CD.

With “Army Of One” we are taken into the world of the acoustic side of Joanne Shaw Taylor. It is a pleasant trip as she does play swell acoustic guitar here. A good addition to this track is Garza chirping along on the mandolin behind her. Her lyrics here take us on a trip that tells us we should keep on marching past our trials. She also states “Don’t mount the devil’s back if you’re not ready for the ride” These lyrics are pretty deep and open up your head.

“Almost Always Never” is a strong statement of the direction Joanne may go with her mu-sic. She is a powerful guitarist, vocalist and song writer. After listening to her 2 previous CDs and watching many You-tube videos of her doing blues tunes such as , “Blackest Day” and, Jimmie Hendrix’s “Magic Depres-sion” there is evidence that Taylor to be go-ing in a different direction. Although this CD is strong, powerful and well done it seems to lack the qualities of a deep rooted blues recording. It tends to be more of heavy rock or British rock blues recording. This can be left up to the fans of Joanne Shaw Taylor to decide.

Reviewed by Harmonica Joe

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