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Redemption is Joe Bonamassa’s 13th solo studio album and is full of original material. The tone is set with Evil Mama. First of all we get slapped drums, horns, female backing vocal and obligatory soaring guitar solos as Joe throws it all at this driving opener. You’ll have a good time with King Bee Shakedown, which is a full on Boogie of a Blues. Horns and female backing continue. The purists may not be happy but Joe nails this and you’ll just want to shake your tail feather. The riff laden Molly O’ follows. This is classic heavy rock with a distinct British influence.
Deep In The Blues Again is a lesson in fretboard dexterity. A mid-paced Blues rocker with a euphoric chorus which I can guarantee will be listened to over and over. The pathos in Joe’s voice is brought out in Self-Inflicted Wounds. He is reported as having said that this is the best song that he has ever written and although there is plenty of competition, this slow Blues certainly showcases everything the Joe is about. There’s a massive solo here and it feels cathartic.
It’s difficult not to think of Tom Waits when you listen to Pick Up The Pieces. It’s a Barrelhouse Blues to match some of the best and is a song for the journey home after a long night. Acoustic slide guitar adds to the overall slightly inebriated feel. Nashville Country singer Jamey Johnson adds vocals to The Ghost Of Macon Jones, a bit of a rebel Country song that’s a rollicking tale with an advisory message. Joe lets rip once more on the solo.
Another highlight is Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should is a big brassy Blues which tips a nod to both Albert and Freddie King. Hammond organ lends that distinctive sound and compliments the horns perfectly. The eponymous title track has Joe’s emotions stripped bare as he sings, I’m sifting through the cold grey ashes, looking for peace and my redemption. This encapsulates the overall feeling of the album, from loss through to acceptance and onto revitalisation. Joe’s delivered an album of deep personal feelings.
I’ve Got Some Mind Over What Matters. Makes light of his troubles on the rest of the album. A sort of ‘whatever’ to what’s gone on previously. It’s presented in the form of an upbeat Blues and is electric but has its roots firmly in the ethos of Robert Johnson. Joe lays his soul bare again on the beautiful Stronger Now In Broken Place. It’s completely acoustic with telling contributions from Kate Stone and Midnight Oil’s Jim Moginie. Love Is A Gamble closes the album and what a finish. This is Joe doing what Joe does best, a full on Chicago influenced Blues that deserves to be played at maximum volume.
I’ve been following Joe from the start and believe me, the journey has not yet finished.
He will play the Plymouth Pavilions on Thursday 11th October, the Nottingham Arena on Friday 12th October and the Bournemouth International Centre on Saturday 13th October.
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