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Joanne Shaw Taylor - White Sugar

Ruf Records

10 songs; Time 51:44; Library Quality

Styles: Blues, Blues-Rock

Remember the musical “British Invasion” circa 1964 and its impact? Forty Five years later, the British are still forcefully invading. This time, it is Joanne Shaw Taylor, a British white girl playing blues guitar, singing, and songwriting with an attention grabbing passion.

Joanne's white hot debut album "White Sugar" was released in January on Ruf Records. With label support, a publicity maven behind her and summer touring, expect to see some Best New Artist Debut award considerations headed her way.

Born and raised amidst the coal mines of Britain’s Black Country; Joanne picked up a guitar and got turned on to the blues as a very young teenager. When Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics met her, Joanne Shaw Taylor was only 16. “[She was] playing blues guitar so deep and passionately it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end!" he said. Her Telecaster guitar playing was so skilled that the blues fan asked her to join his super group D.U.P. to tour Europe in 2002, at age 17.

Today Joanne is 23 and happy about the fact that she took her time with the recording debut: "I wanted to take time out to really work on my craft and make sure that when I did an album, it was the best that I could do."

For "White Sugar" Joanne took a plane to Memphis where she was booked with Jim Gaines at Bessie Blue Studios in Counce TN. Jim had worked with some of Joanne’s idols like Albert Collins and Stevie Ray Vaughan. He brought in the experienced session men Steve Potts (Drums) and Dave Smith (Bass) for a classic power trio. “They didn’t know the tracks until five minutes before we recorded them. I made them listen to the songs once and then play them. It was fantastic. They got so much feeling and soul. They are amazing guys to work with,” Joanne reported.

Taylor’s triple threat talent is demonstrated big time on the CD! Of the ten songs, she wrote all but one. Some songs were written during the flight to Memphis, and a few others were written ten years ago and are her signature tunes. Her publicity describes her sound as “the love child of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Dusty Springfield” for its “mixture of fiery guitar playing, sultry vocals and 100% pure soul. She can play the hard stuff of her influences like SRV, and make one feel the bite of her Telecaster like Albert Collins.”

The set gets serious right from the opening track, “Going Home.” It is not a happy tune as one quickly discovers the narrator has death in mind, “Now only God is on my mind...I’m going home to rest my heavy soul.” The guitar sound perfectly maintains the song’s edgy ambiance.

The search for love that’s real is the theme of tack two, “Just Another Word.” Featuring some Robert Ward sounding riffs in the middle guitar solo, the song finds Joanne singing pleasing, breathy vocals early as a platform from which to build up the emotions of the heart.
Opening with Texas guitar sounds, “Bones” will grab electric Blues fans with its bounce and intricate mid-song guitar solo and final rave up.
“Who Do You Want Me To Be?” showcases Taylor’s fiery rock side while “Time Has Come” slows things down for some classic 12 bar Blues and guitar punctuating the end of lyric lines.

Track six is the title track, a burning instrumental with a hypnotic hook in which Joanne works her powerful magic.

The autobiographical “Kiss The Ground Goodbye” is an excellent example of Taylor’s poetic songwriting and ability to create the accompanying music as she crafts a real winner. More deep feelings come with “Heavy Heart” as the narrator sings forlornly over the wah-wah pedal to the “the only one behind these scars.”

“Watch’em Burn” features Taylor’s lyrics and guitar scolding the shallow cad here accused, “One line on my face / And I was out of your grace....”

"Blackest Day," a song that Joanne wrote when she was 14, was where “I really wanted to show my influences,” she said. It is an 8:17 minute slow, lost-love Blues that is among the best on the CD.

Clearly, Joanne Shaw Taylor can be proud of her first album. "White Sugar" is the proof that the confident and young British woman can keep the traditions of her influences while she is winning new fans on her own merits.

Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from 4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL
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