Joe Bonamassa

Different Shades of Blue

Written by: BV on 10/11/2014 16:27:52

I’ve been sort of ambivalent towards Joe Bonamassa in recent years. Being a guitarist myself, I have a very great appreciation of his meticulously sculpted, utterly pristine sounding guitar tones and his way to carry on the traditional blues setting in a slightly more hard-edged format than most. However, I have always come to deem it utterly unnecessary for him to release album after album of warped blues standards – exquisite guitar sounds and quite decent singing aside. For me, there is something strange about the blues as it is utterly entrancing to listen to live, when you, and the band, is really feeling the mood and everything sort of connects. I’ve just recently developed something of an inability to fully appreciate it in the same way on an album – at least newer ones that I have yet to romanticize as groundbreaking in one way or another.

“Different Shades of Blue” therefore epitomizes everything about my ambivalence towards the blues – mostly because album opener “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” is a snippet of a Hendrix song by the same name, which I have come to romanticize over the years as something truly special. For the album to open with one such track is therefore a very positive thing for me, especially with it being followed by the vocal-dominated, eventually turning quite heavy “Oh Beautiful” where the pristine and superb guitar sounds really complement the track. However, it rather quickly turns out that “Different Shades of Blue” is an album that is hard for me to get through for a number of reasons. For instance, the blues can only be stretched so far these days, so with “Heartache Follows Wherever I Go” Bonamassa reaches an inevitable, cliché-fueled impasse where all the basic ingredients for me, as a dude who was essentially musically brought up with blues-rock should find it endearing, yet somehow the tracks seem so tried and true that there is little more than the sublime guitar playing left to maintain my interest – and sublime as the playing may be, I have sadly developed some wildly different expectations for music than for it to just be well-played.

The title track redeems some of the album, offering up a slightly alternative soundscape on the album which, although still leaning heavily on traditional blues values, manages to stir up the pot to some extent at least, whilst also proving that Bonamassa has apparently excelled since I last fully concentrated on a new release by him. Vocal improvements and exquisite guitar-sounds aside, I have yet to connect with this album – or even to regard it as more than ‘yet another blues record’. Others may find it wildly more intriguing – some might even call it sublime. It’s all a matter of taste and although the blues is embedded so deeply in my musical preferences, I have apparently still moved to far from those initial preferences to fully appreciate something like this.

Download: Different Shades of Blue, Oh Beautiful
For The Fans Of: Black Country Communion, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Walter Trout

Release date 22.09.2014
J&R Adventures

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