Joe Bonamassa Suffers 'Blues of Desperation' on New J&R Adventures Release [REVIEW]

By Mike Greenblatt | Apr 04, 2016 02:24 PM EDT
Joe Bonamassa suffers from 'Blues of Desperation.' (Photo : Rick Gould)

Singer/songwriter/guitarist Joe Bonamassa just keeps getting better and better. His second collaboration with red hot mama Beth Hart, Seesaw, was a real corker, as was his 2014 Different Shades Of Blue. On Blues of Desperation (J&R Adventures), he shakes it up a lot, writing with the cream of the Nashville crop on 11 originals produced by Kevin Shirley, who has been with him for 10 years.

Shirley surrounds Bonamassa with two drummers (one of which is the celebrated Anton Fig, also known as "The Thunder From Down Under" who has supplied beats for everyone. (No need to extol his credits, pick a star and Fig's been there.) Add bass, a horn section and colorful background vocalists to Bonamassa's impassioned vocals and searing electric leads, some of which go on for quite some time in the middle of otherwise compact tunes, and you have a state-of-the-art blues-rock statement that not too many others can equal.

(Photo : courtesy J&R Adventures)
'Blues of Desperation' by Joe Bonamassa

"What I've Known For A Very Long Time" sets new standards for dramatic blues balladry. "The Valley Runs Low" takes time out for some enriching acoustic Americana as his voice slides around the soulful vocal background ladies of the night. "Drive" and "You Left Me Nothin' But The Blues And The Bills" might be the two highlights but it's on "No Good Place For The Lonely" where he'll appease guitar nerds worldwide with some of the hottest licks he's ever recorded.

Blues of Desperation works because it reaches. Not content with the standard 12-bar blues, or I-IV-V progressions or the usual verse-verse-chorus-verse architecture, the tracks, built around Bonamassa's guitar, are mini-jams that accentuate the proceedings with hippie glory like the Allmans of yesteryear.

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