JOE BONAMASSA, THE BALLAD OF JOHN HENRY

john-henry-pic-1_phixr.jpgLong established as one of the premier blues/rock cats, Joe continues to impressively combine old school styles with fresh takes on the genre.   The title cut about the blue collar hero, gets the disc rolling; combining horns, slide guitar, and straight up trademark “Ballsy Joe” vocals.   Stop delivers one of the things that Joe does best.   He has the ability to take the blues/ballad thing, and lift it with the vocals (ala B.B. King), and simultaneously throw in the needed riffs and licks.   Last Kiss is a Joe rocker straight-ahead jam with added Hammond accents.   Jockey Full Of Bourbon is the Tom Waits classic taken up a notch.   The circus/calliope/tack piano style intro followed by some pump organ sounding vibes (standard TW fare), has the tasteful licks layered over the top, giving it that New Orleans brothel feel.   The vocals and delivery should have Mr. Waits nodding in approval.   Story Of A Quarryman is a great original take, one in fact that Ozzy and Tony and the boys in Black would sound great doing!   Lonesome Road Blues is as Joe calls it, resurrected, but carries forward the life of the road.   Happier Times is a relationship ballad, but this one is strong enough to be a single release.   Feeling Good is a Tony Newly, Leslie Bricusse (60’s-70’s show tune geeks) written, covered by Michael Buble, covered (most uniquely I might add) in both English and also French by Joe.   Funkier Than A Mosquito’s Tweeter brings out the horns and the funk, and is a nice total change of direction delivered James Brown/Wicked Pickett style, which is a great thing.   The Great Flood is another relationship piece, but an original, soulfully delivered by the owner of the feelings (like Happier Times), Joe at his best!  

Joe has always had the guitar and vocal duties nailed, but the progression I’ve seen over the years, is in his song writing capabilities.   Joe can turn out an original that expresses the feel and the soul of what he’s trying to convey.   JB’s live and recorded listening audience continues to grow in numbers.   Listen to this release and you’ll understand why!

By RME

[Rating: 4/5]

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