Black Country born blues rock guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor released her 5th studio album ‘Wild’ in late September 2016 and has been relentlessly touring ever since. Wednesday 2nd November saw JST hit the Brook in Southampton and I was super excited to see what this young blues guitarist had in store.
I have been a big fan of this young lady for many years now and have seen her live several times over the years, and this latest release couldn’t come soon enough for me.
Young Blues Superstar
Joanne Shaw Taylor caught the blues bug at a very young age growing up in the Birmingham area of the UK, and listening to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins and Jimi Hendrix certainly whetted her appetite for this style of music. This is the music she wanted to play and peruse as a career. These influences are certainly evident on Joanne’s early releases and coupled with her sultry, soulful and gritty voice, her music makes for extremely delightful listening.
Taylor was discovered at age 16 by Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics, who recruited her to play guitar in his side-project D.U.P. Tours with Stewart and fellow band members Jimmy Cliff, Candy Dulfer and Mudbone Cooper provided a first taste of the international stage.
One look at Joanne though, and you would be forgiven in thinking that earthy, soulful, deep blues rock was not something this dainty, long blonde haired, pretty English white chick would belt out. Oh, how wrong you’d be! Joanne Shaw Taylor is one extremely talented blues guitarist and has already cemented her reputation as one of the greats of the guitar and the blues genre.
Joanne Goes Wild with Kevin Shirley
Joanne’s latest release, ‘Wild’ certainly confirms this! Produced by the legendary Kevin ‘The Caveman’ Shirley (Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart, Black Country Communion, Aerosmith, Journey, Iron Maiden, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Mr. Big and many more) this release shows a more mature and polished side of Shaw Taylor. Kevin has produced a fuller sound to Joanne’s music without losing the essence of what JST is about. There are some truly great songs on this record and you can hear Kevin’s producing in abundance. I’m really loving the way Joanne and Kevin have gone on this record, packing the sound with piano, a brass section and backing vocals, creating a fuller and bigger sound.
The level of guitar of playing on the record is of top quality as expected from JST, but this album does not have the in your face, mind melting style of some of her other releases. As mentioned, Wild is a much more mature and polished JST and I’m hearing Joe Bonamassa style solos on ‘Ready To Roll’, Chris Rea style playing on ‘No Reason To stay’ and an SRV influenced solo on ‘Wanna Be My Lover’ . The songs are very cleverly, intelligently written and arranged indeed.
Don’t get me wrong, Joanne’s searing guitar playing is all over this record but in a more subtle way. Take ‘Wild is the Wind’ for example; just when you think the song is has run its natural course, Joanne cranks it up with a short, but blistering solo to end the song, nice!
The Guitar Is Just The Beginning
Guitar playing aside, Joanne is an extremely talented vocalist too and is a twice a winner of the Best Female vocalist award in 2010 & 2011 at the British Blues awards. Joanne’s voice lends itself to classics such as George Gershwin’s aria ‘summertime’ and a stunning cover of the 1934 popular and much recorded Jazz standard is the final offering on the album.
Wild is one great album from the young blues guitarist, but as good as it is, I feel it is just scratching the surface of what JST has to offer. Shaw Taylor’s style is developing and maturing and working with producers like Kevin Shirley can only be a good thing. I am no fortune teller, but I can see this album as a turning point in the career of JST and this has whetted my appetite for her next release already. To quote an already legendary American blues guitarist, a certain Mr. Joe Bonamassa, ‘Joanne is a superstar in waiting’ and who can argue with that guy!
Wild – Out Now
Joanne Shaw Taylor’s 5th studio album is out now and is available from all good record stores, digital stores and via her website.
Photos and Words by Richard Bolwell