Here we are once again, it’s time for another album release from Joe Bonamassa. For the record, this is Joe’s first ever studio release of all original material. That means that all of these 11 tracks are songs that you’ve never heard before. They are classics for the record book. It’s been over two years since Joe’s last studio release, “Driving Towards The Daylight”. In the past two years, Joe has released numerous live records and records with legendary singer, Beth Hart.
“It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in the writing on an entire album. So I decided I wanted to make a completely original blues album,” said Bonamassa. “I’ve really had to push myself to make everything I do better than the last project. I know the fans expect it. And I feel like I owe it to the fans to give them an original record after all these years.” -Joe Bonamassa
With that being said, it’s time to dig in. So here we go! Are you ready?!
It was a warm sunny day in early August. I had just come home from a long day at work and open up the mailbox. Instead of the mailbox being full of the usual junk and bills, I noticed a bubble mailer. Inside of this bubble mailer was a CD… little did I know that it would change my life. It was “Different Shades of Blue”.
The album jumps right into full swing, with an opening intro “Hey Baby”, where Joe takes us into an instrumental jam of greatness and we are given a sneak peak of what the rest of the album has to offer. If you’ve seen Joe live recently, he’s been doing “Hey Baby” as an intro to “Oh Beautiful”. If you weren’t at Red Rocks, don’t worry, it will be on the live DVD and Bluray. Still in awe from the intro, “Oh Beautiful” starts off slow, with Joe singing a verse from the song. Don’t be fooled folks, this is not a slow song. This is a heavy song, that goes back to Joe’s roots in Black Country Communion. It’s a heavy rock song, where Joe’s guitar is not afraid to scream. Absolutely a stunner of a song to see live, that’s for sure. I was not aware that wah pedals can scream the way they do. Thanks to this song, I am now a firm believer that Joe was made to play the wah pedal.
“I think Joe has learned the value of not underestimating his audience. He plays music as well as he can, and always tries to bring music of depth to his audience. We try very hard to make the records as multidimensional as possible and really try not to cut any corners in delivering them.” -Kevin Shirley
Joe takes a different approach on the next track, “Love Ain’t A Long Song”. This songs starts off very fast and upbeat. On every studio record, Joe’s voice continues to get better and better. Just when you think it can’t get any better, you listen to a track like “Love Ain’t A Love Song” and you’re proven wrong. This song is one of my favorites on the album and even thought it’s what I consider to be a faster track, Joe isn’t afraid to throw in a few mind blowing guitar licks. Epic! This song is also on Joe’s currently set list and a real thrill to see live. On to the next track, which is “Living On The Moon”. This track has a very bluesy rock feel to it and starts off with the horn section. The horns compliment this song very well and Joe’s guitar has a very grungy feel to it, which adds greatly to the song.
The fifth track on the album is a gem named “Heartaches Follows Wherever I Go”. Joe digs deep down inside on this track and pulls out some amazing lyrics. These are lyrics that most of us can relate to and have experienced at some point in our lives. I also love how the horn section is quite evident on this song. Such a great song! Up next is my favorite song on the album. It was my favorite song after listening to the album the first time through and still holds it’s ranking in my top 5 Joe songs of all time, “Never Give All Your Heart”. As I said early, there are several hints on this album, that bring out what I feel is Joe’s real rock side and this tune is another one of those songs that does just that. The amount of emotion you feel in the opening song leaves me just speechless. I would hope to see this song live. When it is played live, it will be a keeper, and it will stay on every set list, just like Sloe Gin. Mark my words!
The seventh track on Different Shades of Blue, might just be on of the best blues genre geared songs on the album. It’s titled “I Gave Up Everything For You, ‘Cept The Blues.” This track has a very old rusty blues feeling to it, definitely from the olden days. Hints of Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf scream throughout the song. Joe’s guitar is also screaming, adding his own twist, which brings this song to modern day. This is an instant blues classic. This song complements the album nicely and I thoroughly enjoy listening to it on repeat.
We’re up to the title track of the album, which of course is “Different Shades of Blue”. This song is another one that many folks can relate with. Joe’s great song writing skills really do shine on this song. It’s easily one of the best songs on the album and it’s probably one you’ve already heard. If I was a DJ at a radio station and had to pick a song from the new album to play, this would be one of them. With that being said, Joe should add this song to his set list, so we can all watch in awe and take in one of Joe’s most amazing guitar solos of all time. Thanks for this one, Joe.
For the next track of this masterpiece, Joe takes us on another grand blues rock adventure with the track “Get Back My Tomorrow”. A reason why this song stands out is Joe’s voice. His voice on this track is incredible and while Joe is primarly singing on this song, the guitar also reminds me a lot of “Dust Bowl”, which is another great song. Joe also references “Pain and Sorrow”, could that be a coincidence? You can listen below and let us know what you think!
It’s hard to believe that we are up to track 10 on this album. Up to this point, it feels as if this album has the tracks arranged in a particular way, to convey a story to the listener. I don’t think I would arrange them any other way! Anyways, this superb track is titled “Trouble Town”. More Horns, more horns, more horns! I’ll take the horns any day. This track combines blues, with rock guitar riffs, with hints of soul type music that makes you wonder if working with Beth Hart has influenced Joe. I could also see this song being played by Joe and Beth at some point, that would be splendid!
The final track of the album is titled “So, What Would I do”. This song fits perfectly as the last song of the album. It’s like Joe and Co came back out in the studio for an encore and this is the song they played. The song starts playing with a beautiful piano intro, which just so happens to remind me a lot of “Asking Around For You”, off of Joe’s “You & Me” album. It’s the slowest song on the album, but don’t let that fool you. It would be great to see Joe playing this live, especially as the encore with his 335, making some of the best facial expressions one can make while playing guitar. This one will hits straight at the heart and I would consider it to be a tear-jerker.
In the end, this album is one of the best records I’ve listened to, in a long time. I say that not because I am a Joe Bonamassa fan, but because I am a fan of music. A fan of music that is unique to the world and has it’s own unique sound. Music that you listen to and it shows endless amounts of emotion. Music that shows the artists’ own blood and tears. As Joe does with every studio album, he nails it. Nails it straight on the head. Dead on. Joe can’t be classified as a blues artist. Joe can’t be classified as a rock artist. Joe can’t be classified as a pop artist. Joe Bonamassa is his own genre of music and I suggest you jump on board and enjoy the ride. I hope we see many more original releases from Joe in the future. Until next time.