Friday, March 29, 2013

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Blues music is an odd thing, It's changed so much since those early days of black guys singing into bad recording equipment, and yet its still pretty much the same. What is also strange about the blues is how exclusive it is, Joe Bonamassa is undoubtedly one of the best and biggest guitarists of our generation, with huge sales of his huge discography, and arena shows throughout the UK. Yet Joe isn't a household name, he's most likely never been mentioned in the cool mags or had his videos on the telly.
The Midlands own Joanne Shaw Taylor is a success in the same sort of way.
Her first album seemed a bit out of place at first, It has a big sticker on the back with 'FILE UNDER BLUES' on it to avoid HMV staff absent mindedly looking at the attractive blonde haired lady and shoving her album into the country section.

I've seen Joanne Shaw Taylor twice since that album came out and both were brilliant gigs. Her support came from 'Virgil and The Accelerators' a phenomenally talented teenage three piece from Wales. My jealousy of the (quite lovely) lads from Duke bears nothing in comparison with this three. Virgil is without any doubt the most talented guitarist I've ever seen.
At this point Joanne seemed a bit of a novice compared with Virgil, as him and his band were a hard act to follow. But that's not to say that Joanne Shaw Taylor is not a hugely talented guitarist herself. I'm listening to her 2009 d├ębut while writing this and within minutes I'm hearing solos and licks fly off her guitar sounding no more effortless than making a slice of toast. In the end Joanne was able to top him because of the quality of her songwriting.
You see a lot of blues guitarists are essentially just that, and the songs can sound very cliched, Yet Joanne seems to avoid that trap, keeping with the blues spirit yet sounding fresh. Her live shows are fast paced affairs but the songs themselves are pretty laid back. She also has a deep husky voice and she's better looking than pretty much 90% of blues guitarists.
My memories are hazy of both the time's I've seen her as it was a while back but I recall that they were amazing gigs, full of energy and raw talent. Gigs always feel a bit more special at the Robin because they're just that bit more spontaneous for example when I saw her play the Robin again (she's from just round the corner) just a year later she'd got even better. Virgil was still a hard act to follow but this time she was every bit his equal in the guitar duel with the young prodigy. She expected to "have her ass handed" to her but she could now hold her own, sounding very much his equal and proving that practice, and touring does make perfect.

Since I've seen her she has released her third album 'Almost Always Never' to continuing critical acclaim and her Facebook (with 11,115 likes) claims that she now lives in Detroit. It's good seeing that since I've seen her she's kept going strong. Shes now a veteran rather than a novelty, so lets celebrate her, not as a blues player, but as a brummie.

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