RATINGS: A = must own B = buy it C= average D = yawn F = puke

Joe Bonamassa – Blues of Desperation
J&R Adventures

Rating: A

Blues of Desperation will be released on March 25, 2016.  The wait will be over for Joe Bonamassa fans, who have been chomping at the bit since he released Different Shades of Blue in 2014.  They will be very happy, as this release is worth the wait.

Joe has reached a strange place in his career.  He is massively popular in his genre.  His is well respected among his peers.  He is adored by his fan base.  He is a meticulous businessman.  The issue is that his natural ability, combined with his relentless pursuit of perfection, has seen him create many musical masterpieces.  His fans have come to expect greatness.  This may be a problem when he wants to reach outside the box and do something different.  It’s also an issue when he wants to stick with what he loves.  A release by Bonamassa that does not melt you heart, as well as your ears, is simply seen as a disappointment.

Another artist could put out an album of the same material that would be reviewed as amazing but by Joe standards it might be graded a C.  Yes, this man is so good that he has entered the realm of competing against his own greatness.  With Blues of Desperation we are happy to report his greatness has won!  Want proof?  Listen to the solo on track four, “No Good Place for the Lonely.”  Want more proof?  Listen to the entire song “How Deep this River Runs.”  That may be the best tune he has ever been involved with... and that is saying something! Seriously, this is perhaps the most powerful song performed by Joe.

Joe realizes who he is, and what he is up against.  Bonamassa says: “I want people to hear my evolution as a blues-rock musician – somebody who isn’t resting on accomplishments and who is always pushing forward and thinking about how music can evolve and stay relevant.  Lyrically, you’ll hear the proverbial trains, mountains, valleys and other blues references about heartbreak and loneliness. But there are also some poignant moments about getting away from the stressful, crazy demands of life and losing yourself with your special someone.”

Joe loves to collaborate with other artists, and this time he wrote the album in Nashville, where talent abounds.  Bonamassa teamed up with James House, Tom Hambridge, Jeffrey Steele, Jerry Flowers and Gary Nicholson before recording the album at Grand Victor Sound Studios with his buddy and producer Kevin Shirley.

Shirley adds: “I wanted him to work a little harder, like in his early years. Recording Blues Of Desperation is one of the most exciting recording projects I've done. What a joyful noise we made.”

Joyful noise, indeed!  “The Valley Runs Low” is as soulful as “You Left Me Nothin’ but the Blues” is… well… bluesy!  “This Train” will make the set list with its opening riff alone and “Drive” shows the man can be mellow.  There is nothing even close to filler on this album.  I would be happy paying for a concert ticket and only hearing these songs!

I have, in the past said that the problem with Joe is that he makes it look too easy.  While he does not appear to have labored too intensively on this sucker, its obvious he refused to rest on his laurels.  He continues to push himself.  Each time he does, he outdoes himself. 

File this one under: INSTANT FAN FAVORITE. 

Joe Bonamassa - Blues Of Desperation tracklist:
This Train
Mountain Climbing
No Good Place For The Lonely
Blues Of Desperation
The Valley Runs Low
You Left Me Nothin’ But The Bill And The Blues
Distant Lonesome Train
How Deep This River Runs
Livin’ Easy
What I’ve Known For A Very Long Time

Producer: Kevin Shirley
Joe Bonamassa (Guitar & Vocals), Anton Fig & Greg Morrow (Drums), Michael Rhodes (Bass), Reece Wynans (Keys), Lee Thornburg, Paulie Cerra, Mark Douthit (Horns), Mahalia Barnes, Jade McCrae, Juanita Tiipins (Backing Vocals)

Jeb-amassa Wright