on March 22, 2011
Joe Bonamassa is nothing if not old-school, releasing an album a year since 2000 despite touring relentlessly. That's a refreshing change from the modern norm of artists going years between releases/tours. "Dust Bowl" is the latest in Joe's increasingly-impressive catalog.
The album opens with "Slow Train," an original that features a clever instrumental intro mimicking the start-up of a steam engine, a blistering solo, and an arresting vocal. "Dust Bowl," another original, is a twang-and-tremolo treat with a vocal reminiscent of "Book of Dreams"-era Steve Miller and a spooky spoken-word voice-over by Peter Van Weelden, Joe's current favorite amp guru. The rollicking "Tennessee Plates" features a rocking duet (both vocal and instrumental) with John Hiatt. Next up is a cover of the Bobby Troup/Leah Worth jazz classic "The Meaning of the Blues," with some more of Joe's tasty soloing; definitely not the Miles Davis version! "Black Lung Heartache" is another original that deftly blends some unusual stringed instruments with a crunchy rock riff. "You Better Watch Yourself," an old Little Walter hit, is meat-and-potatoes blues-rock that gives the wah pedal a workout. "The Last Matador of Bayonne," another original, slows the pace but features a soaring solo in Joe's trademark style. Joe's Black Country Communion bandmate Glenn Hughes joins in for a duet on the Paul Rodgers/Free classic "Heartbreaker," and their affection for the material comes across in a fine performance. Another cover, of the Tim Curry/Michael Kamen grinder "No Love On the Street," keeps the classic blues-rock vibe going and features guests Beth Hurt and Blondie Chaplin. "The Whale That Swallowed Jonah," another original, is an up-tempo number with a nice blend of acoustic sounds (including Joe on mandolin) with electric. Vince Gill drops in for a visit on a cover of his "Sweet Rowena," a guitar/vocal duet that is one of the album's high points. The album winds up with "Prisoner," written by Blue By Nature's Karen Lawrence, a song Barbra Streisand made famous when she sang it on the "Eyes of Laura Mars" soundtrack.
I suppose it is to be expected that an artist will always describe her/his most recent work as "the best yet" (as Joe does in the liner notes here), but in this case I would agree. This is a collection of finely-crafted, affecting performances in a variety of styles. Joe's vocals have never seemed more relaxed and confident, and the guitar work is exemplary (duh!). Joe says he was worn out from touring and needed a break when this album was recorded. I'm sure that was true, but this album sure doesn't show it. Highly recommended.
on March 31, 2011
I have only been a Bonamassa fan for a couple of years now.... when I first heard him I was impressed with his versatility as a guitar player. He covered tha gamit of rock and blues and he did it with his own style. With so many Guitar-slingers and SRV wannabe's, I found Joe Bonamassa to be original and sincere, playing some of the greatest classic songs with his own unique blend plus writing some really good songs of his own. My Joe Bonamassa collection has bulked up over the past couple of years, and now he seems to be in a period of creative genius where I find albums rolling out in short due. His collaborations with other artists indicate that Joe is a musician, not just another egotistic "Hey. Look at me!" guitar player. I saw Joe in Wilmington Delaware last year and he was tremendous. DUST BOWL shows Joe coming into his own. He has developed a sound that is strictly Joe Bonamassa and each album has that stamp that automaticly makes you recognize him. But its not same ole same ole stuff...its fresh and crisp and so very clean. Joe Bonamassa is a winner and every album he has released these past couple years demonstrate his greatness as a musician. If you like this style of Blues/ Rock, you cannot go wrong with any Joe Bonamassa CD.
on March 22, 2011
For me, it's always a GREAT day when my man Joe releases new tuneage. I am NOT a professional music reviewer, but I love everything he's ever done, not to mention his humbleness. My kind of guy all around. Especially in the absence of Stevie Ray (I'm still grieving). I know that all music is down to personal taste, and for me, Blues does it mighty fine--'specially Joe's!
on March 23, 2011
Whenever Joe Bonamassa puts out a new album, I try to give it a lot of spins before I write a review. He has yet to release a record that I don't enjoy, but I certainly like some more than others and it usually takes at least a week's worth of constant rotation before I can really judge where it falls in the pantheon of his work. After receiving my pre-order of 'Dust Bowl' a full week before the release date and having it spinning non-stop since, I can safely say that this is easily Joe's best record since 'You and Me', and possibly right up there with the best he's ever done, alongside the aforementioned 'You and Me' and his early classic 'Blues Deluxe'.
Since 'You and Me', Joe has released a lot of great music, but this is the first truly great ALBUM. 'Sloe Gin' had a lot of knockout moments but lacked a lot of the fiery lead playing and didn't feel like a cohesive whole. 'The Ballad of John Henry' felt much more like a complete album, but it dragged in spots and for me, lacked a certain fire. 'Black Rock' blew me away at first with it's return to some of the blazing lead work, but the material was so all over the place that it didn't seem to have a natural flow to it. 'Dust Bowl' brings everything together. Now, some old school fans are going to be disappointed that this isn't 'Blues Deluxe II'. But you have to realize that Joe is no longer the artist that made that record. He has moved beyond his rag-tag power trio knocking out rocked-up versions of blues chestnuts. He's really become an artist, and he does a great job here of taking chances and keeping things varied, while never losing that signature Joe sound. The originals and cover meld together perfectly, and the guest spots are brilliantly chosen. Kevin Shirley's production is beefy, muscular, and spacious, so the album sounds loud and ballsy even when played at low volume. Joe's vocals continue to get stronger and stronger with each passing release, and he really pours himself into his vocal performance here, and the lyrics to his original tracks are some of the strongest and most mature he's ever written. And then of course, the guitar playing is simply off the charts brilliant. The album kicks off with 'Slow Train', an insistent, stomping groover that kicks and snorts like a mule. The tempo is slow, but the energy is high, so the song never sounds plodding the way some of the slower tracks on 'John Henry' did. 'Slow Train' then gives way to the title track, a deliciously slinky groover with great lyrics and a fantastic bass line. Joe (and Kevin Shirley, I'm sure) wisely resisted the urge to have the tune explode into a power-chord orgy in the chorus, instead slowly building the intensity over the course of the entire song and allowing it to climax with Joe's soaring lead solo instead. 'Tennessee Plates' is up next, and is placed perfectly in the running order as a lighthearted yin to the powerful yang of the first 2 cuts. It's a country boogie-blues cover of the Hiatt original, with Hiatt and Joe dueting on lead vocals and Vince Gill contributing some fantastic lead playing. This is followed by 'The Meaning of the Blues', a slow-burn but intense blues featuring a great lead vocal from Joe. Joe's leads are passionate and emotional, the kind that have you making 'guitar faces' while you're playing along on the air guitar. Another Joe original, 'Black Lung Heartache' come next. It starts off with some of the native Greek instrumentation that Joe first explored on 'Black Rock' before giving way to a grinding guitar orgy and, of course, some amazing leads. This is one of the best original tracks that Joe has penned to date, simply great stuff. No Joe album would be complete without the obligatory 12-bar shuffle blues, and we get that here in the form of the rollicking 'You Better Watch Yourself'.
The volume now gets turned down a notch for 'The Last Matador of Bayonne', a gorgeous and deliberate acoustic flavored number with a great, emotional lead vocal. This track almost acts as an 'intermission' of sorts, but that's not to say it's a throwaway, as it's a beautifully constructed song and another of Joe's strongest ever original tunes. It's followed by a cover of Free's 'Heartbreaker' featuring a vocal duet between Joe and his Black Country Communion bandmate, the 'Voice of Rock', Glenn Hughes. I'm a huge fan of Free (and just about anything related to Paul Rodgers) and this cover is done with great reverence and emotion. Joe's husky rasp and Glenn's soaring rock voice blend perfectly, and makes me hope there's be more shared lead vocals on the next BCC record! 'No Love on the Street' features some very nice strings and probably the best lead solo on the record. From about 2:30 on you are bathed in an absolute downpour of incandescent, wah-wah drenched flurries that are simply awe-inspiring. The tempo is then revved back up for 'The Whale that Swallowed Jonah', and rolling and tumbling Joe-penned rocker with a catchy chorus that has been one of my favorite tracks on the album. Another duet is next, this time with Vince Gill (who previously contributed guitar work on 'Tennessee Plates') on his bouncy 'Sweet Rowena'. Gill's smooth voice is another great foil for Joe's and they meld together perfectly, and Gill's country flavored picking is also a welcome addition. The album winds up with 'Prisoner', a song originally performed by Barbra Streisand of all people. Joe and co. have turned it into a soaring, minor-key blues rock ballad that would not sound out of place on a Free album circa 1972.
'Dust Bowl' is one of Joe Bonamassa's crowning achievements to date. It's one of the most cohesive and well rounded albums he has ever recorded and will be hard to top the next time out. Joe's albums are almost always a home run, but once in awhile he hits one of those steroid-assited, 600 foot Mark McGwire jobs, and 'Dust Bowl' is one of those. This is a great place to start for new fans, and should delight all but the most stubborn of his old ones.
on March 24, 2011
For his 10th album, Joe has sort of gone the old "Carlos Santana" route to get worldwide attention (not that he needed it). Glenn Hughes makes a cameo on the record to attract the ROCK crowd. Joe attracts the country crowd by getting Vince Gill to come in for a track. Combine these musical juggernauts with Joe's gigantic "living legend" guitar tone... and you have the same recipe Santana had on his Supernatural album that won all of those Grammy awards.
The REST of the album does NOT fail to impress. Recorded in short time, Joe does his best recording yet. Anyone "new" to Joe could start with this album... anyone who likes Joe would be comfortable with this as a new album... although it's a very polished yet off the cuff blues album. BLUES. Plenty of face melting solos, and amazing clear vocal melodies. Joe's voice is better on the album than any previous.
Another MAJOR plus: his songs on this album tell stories vs. "my baby done left me" typical ho-hum blues.
The only accomplishment Joe has yet to capture is the attention of the Recording Academy. Joe has topped the Billboard Blues Charts more than most artists in the category with his last four albums, yet ironically he has yet to be nominated for a Blues Grammy. Will Dust Bowl BE that album?
on March 25, 2011
Joe's newest album is phenomenal. Every song here has something great to offer, and the mood varies greatly throughout the whole CD. Every new album sees him become a better singer and songwriter, and this is no exception. he continues to grow as a musician and take us along for the ride. Also, his collaborations with other singers really adds some nice variety as well.
on November 30, 2012
There are some artist that forever have me banging my head against the wall, feeling that I should be down on my knees, raising a ceremonial guitar to the heavens in prayer, thanking the guitar gods that on the third day I was blessed with the sense of hearing ... instead of sitting here trying to figure out why I'm deleting half the tracks on this, the tenth outing in as many years from Joe Bonamassa.
There are those who claim Dust Bowl is his strongest release to date, and while I can make that argument as well, that still leaves half the songs on the cutting room floor as far as I'm concerned ... though I will say that those remaining certainly are well worth your time. This is probably one of the most cinematic albums I've ever heard from Joe, it's full of gritty visionary lyrics that counterbalance his slow driving blues, jangling guitars, and the accelerating Hammond, one that stands toe to toe with a kicking Slide, one that will remind you of what the southern States have brought to both rock n' roll and the blues. And still I sit here, convinced that half the songs just don't work for me.
The exceptions are "Dust Bowl," which has been offered as a free download, and has been shaded with strat guitar tones layered to create a western soundtrack that's just crying to be used in the TV series "Justified," and has been riding shotgun with me as I traveled through New Mexico. "Tennessee Plates" is a roadhouse knockout sung by John Haitt, and is sure to have you downing that last shot before splintering the dance floor. "Black Lung Heartache" is one of the best tracks on the album, a stoner's dream with lustful guitar solos that will leave you breathless. "Sweet Rowena" was penned and sung by Vince Gill who spars completely stolen signature B.B. King guitar licks with Joe, and rises to what sounds like a festive long lost Allman Brothers track. And still, I sit here willing to dismiss the rest of the album.
As with the afore mentioned B.B. King, Joe has finally reached that stage of his career where his personal signature moves shine through bright as the sun, and it's a true pleasure to hear him so effortlessly collaborating with other great musicians. There's a feeling of satisfaction on Dust Bowl that comes from relentlessly touring and nonstop playing, where he finds a flawless groove and shows it off like a new penny. His timing and phrasing are right on cue, he's no longer just an amazing guitar player, he's a musical force to be reckoned with, and in his relaxed manner, he seems very pleased to be doing just what he's doing ... and still, I sit here willing to toss out half the tracks on this great release for some reason that I may never figure out.
Review by Jenell Kesler
on October 16, 2013
What can I say after reviewing "Bonamassa - Live at the Beacon?" Read that review and apply it to this CD. I'm crazy about J.B., and you will be too (assuming you like good, loud and some not so loud, boisterous blues, jazz, and rock with a beat). "Dust Bowl" gives you 12 tracks of good music--12 tracks!--and you'll love every one of them. If you have never heard Joe play guitar and sing in person in New York (Where else would he go live to thousands first?) or on public television, you've got to buy and play this CD before you listen to "...Live..." Joe's unique style makes his music sound incredible; you'll find yourself listening to it all the time.
P.S. To the ladies out there: He is really cute and sexy too. (Bet Amazon will delete this line.)
on May 14, 2012
Bonamassa certainly is prolific. For all intensive purposes this is the 2nd album Joe has released in the past year. That along with his duet album with Beth Hart, releasing a great rock n roll album with Black Country Communion and constant touring it is a wonder that Bonamassa is able to have enough gas in the tank for a release of this quality. I was a bit disappointed in his last album "Black Rock" and, although it was a solid album, did not think that it ranked up with his best. "Dust Bowl" sees Joe back on track mining a similar vein to his 2009 album "The Ballad Of John Henry" which I loved. "Dust Bowl" is full of tales of misery and woe served up on the title track and others such as "Black Lung Heartache" and "No Love On The Street". Joe teams up with several special guests on this one all of which work quite well. John Hiatt guest on the rocking "Tennessee Plates", Vince Gill guests on the country tinged "Sweet Rowena" and his BCC partner in crime Glenn Hughes sings his lungs out on the classic Paul Rogers penned "Heartbreaker". Bonamassa's guitar is in top form all through this one and he stretches his songwriting chops with songs like "Slow Train" and "The Whale That Swallowed Jonah" in my opinion one of the best tunes he has ever written. When "Black Rock" was released in 09 I was disappointed, but I think "Dust Bowl" is a fine return to form and ranks right up with the best Joe has released. There is not a dud track on it.
on October 11, 2011
I'm such a huge Joe Bonamassa fan that, if I was sitting where you are now, I'd already be out the door, looking for his album, "Dust Bowl". In fact, that's exactly what I did. And, you know what? No matter where I looked, I couldn't find the darn thing!
After several months, I broke down and ordered it online which is what I should have done from the git-go. Silly me.
I feel especially silly after I received it and have listened to it `bout a bijillion times because it's that good! And to think that I missed out on six months of intense musical pleasure.
I've learned my lesson and have order his brand spanking new CD, Don't Explain, recorded with Beth Hart. Stay tuned for that more timely review.
But I digress.
Better late than never, I've enjoyed listening to Dust Bowl and have it firmly burned into my DNA. The album is chock-full of incredible musical wizardry - not only by Joe but a boat load of incredible artist like Carmine Rojas and Rick Melick, guest musicians Anton Fig, John Haitt, Vince Gill, Michael Rhodes (reknown Nashville session bassist), Chad Cromwell (drumming credits include Peter Frampton, Neil Young and Mark Knopfler), Steve Nathan (acclaimed Nashville based session keyboardist), Tony Cedras, Glenn Hughes, Arlan Schierbaum, Blondie Chaplin, Beth Hart, and Reese Wynans. Heck, he even brought in the guy who makes his amps, Peter Van Weelden, to lend his voice to the title cut.
Dust Bowl starts out with low down and dirty, Slow Train, that Joe co-wrote with the album's producer, Kevin Shirley. The smokin' hot solos and a groove as deep as a cotton field row has made this tune a crowd favorite. While every tune on this album has earned multiple hits on the repeat button, Slow Train has probably edged out the rest as getting the most such hits.
The title cut is chock full of riffs and beats that destine this tune for use in movies, advertisements and bumper music. In its own funky way, it kind of reminds me of the Stones' Anyone Seen My Baby. Following Dust Bowl is Tennessee Plates features the unmistakable vocals of John Haitt and signature guitar work by Vince Gill. It wouldn't surprise me a bit if this cut is getting significant rotation on country stations around the country. If it isn't, it should. Heck, it deserves a funky video for play on GAC and CMT, it's that good!
The Meaning of the Blues again offers up some incredible solos by Joe that easily allows the listener to envision Bonamassa kickin' it out on stage and leaving the audience pleasantly exhausted when it's all said and done. Homage is paid to the coal miners of the world with Black Lung Heartache and is played against a dark and heavy musical backdrop befitting of them song's message.
The Last Matador of Bayonne emits a whole range of emotions from both player and listener alike and is, by far, one of the Boomerocity's 12 favorites from this album (you didn't expect me to actually pick a favorite, did you?). No Love On The Street is a Michael Kamen/Tim Curry tune that features rhythm guitar work by Blondie Chapman. The vocal assistance by Beth Hart was, no doubt, a precursor to Joe's new collaborative release, Don't Explain, with Ms. Hart. If this tune is any indication of what that album contains then I can't wait to hear it!
If you're like me and are late to the Dust Bowl party, then I suggest you get off your musical butt and buy the darn thing because it's going to give Bonamassa (as well as blues) fans countless hours of listening enjoyment.