Joanne Shaw Taylor Heavy Soul Album Review


Joanne Shaw Taylor, the chart-topping British blues-rock guitarist, is set to enchant the music world with her latest studio album Heavy Soul set to be released on June 7th through Joe Bonamassa’s Journeyman Records and is the follow up to 2022's Nobody's Fool album.

Reflecting on the creation of Heavy Soul, Joanne shared, "For me, it was about connecting the dots from 'Nobody's Fool' back into the blues... It's a mix of contemporary soul-pop and roots music.”

With singles being released as far back to September 2023 we can see that Joanne has certainly expanded and refined her sound and succeeded in her vision while recording in Nashville under the guidance of producer Kevin Shirley (Black Crowes, Journey, Aerosmith).

With the following stellar line up of musicians they have created a masterpiece.
Rob McNelly – Guitar
Doug Lancio – Rhythm Guitar
Allison Prestwood – Bass
Jimmy Wallace – Keys
Anton Fig – Drums & Percussion 
Kim Fleming & Devonne Fowlkes - Backing Vocals
Jade MacRae & Dannielle DeAndrea – Backing Vocals on Tracks 2,3, 9 & 10

First track Sweet Lil' Lies I loved when I first heard it as the first single and I am also fortunate to have seen the song played live as Joanne premiered it on her February 2024 UK tour.

I love the guitar add libbed riff that she returns to time and again throughout the song and Kevin Shirley's production comes shining through with the bass prominent and keyboard flourishes too. Joanne adds different tones and add libs and her vocals show her maturity as a world class singer. The mid song guitar solo is fiery and note perfect and I love the way the second guitar solo near the end of the song explodes from the speakers when you least expect it.

We go down a notch for the acoustic led cover of “All The Way From America” written by Joan Armatrading and Joanne does it justice with her breathless vocal superb.

Black Magic enforces the depth of material with it's swinging heavy groove and some great female backing vocals added to the chorus and second verse before the piano solo mid song. Joanne plays the song out with a beautiful picked guitar solo showing another style to her armoury.

Drowning In A Sea Of Love is a cover of a 1971 song by Joe Simon and again the production shines with every instrument having a place and all being heard clearly. Joanne's insistent vocal melody in the chorus leads into a blues guitar solo and you can imagine this song being lovingly embellished in the live setting on stage.

A Good Goodbye again takes it down a notch but with no less quality. Joanne's held note vocal line is superb and more beautiful backing vocals and a song to play on a summers evening if we ever get one again. Laid back and gentle with Joanne's picked note guitar solo telling it's own story.

The title track Heavy Soul starts on a drum rhythm that continues through the first verse before increasing for the chorus. Joanne add libbs guitar flourishes after the first chorus and the song continues to groove beautifully and then Joanne's lengthy guitar solo takes it to another level in the outro for well over a minute with the band interplay underneath holding it together. Superb.

Wild Love was also played on the UK tour and starts from picked electric notes and vocal line before the band kick in at the first chorus .Another song that grooves and gets in your head and doesn't let go. The picked note guitar solo fits the song perfectly.

Van Morrison's Someone Like You is laid back and Joanne's vocal melody fits the song like a glove with the production adding star quality.

Devil In Me is a shoe in for the live shows with it being a blues rocker driven by the rhythm team and more big backing vocals in the chorus and the mid song guitar solo erupts in a flurry of notes and more guitar add libbs under the next chorus. 

Change Of Heart ends the album with it's laid back feel and swinging guitar riff and dreamy vocal chorus. Love the different feel of the second verse with Joanne sharing the vocal  and plenty of guitar add libbing under the final vocal lines too.

Heavy Soul sees Joanne Shaw Taylor's star continuing to ascend with an album that showcases her talents beautifully both guitar playing and vocally up there with the very best in any genre.


Photo Credit and used with thanks : © Stacie Huckeba

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