Joe Bonamassa – Different shades of blue

album by:
Joe Bonamassa

Reviewed by:
On 6 September 2014
Last modified:6 September 2014


A stunningly good album.

Joe Bonamassa - Different shades of blueBlues guitarist, Joe Bonamassa will be releasing his latest album later this month.  That probably isn’t a surprising start to a review – after all, Joe Bonamassa does release a lot of albums, but if you look at the last year or so, the releases have all been live ones or covers (his album “seesaw” with Beth Hart), with his last studio album having been released two and a half years ago in early 2012.  That gap between studios may seem quite short for many artists, but for Joe Bonamassa that’s an unusually long gap considering he released 10 studio albums in the period 2000-2012.

During 2013 he spent time in Nashville working with other writers then earlier this year headed to Las Vegas to record the album with his long-time producer, Kevin Shirley.  In fact it’s hard to imagine him using another producer since the two have worked together on the last 15 releases from Joe Bonamassa including Black Country Communion and his albums with Beth Hart.

Brief comments on a few tracks…

The first song to be released from the album is the title track, Different shades of blue.  If you haven’t heard it yet then I suggest you watch the video now and hear for yourself just how good it is.  It’s a great song and while it’s mainly played on electric guitar, there are parts played on an acoustic – the opening in particular.

The album opens with “Hey baby (New sun rising)”, a short but extremely enjoyable instrumental with the organ sounds complementing the guitar nicely.

“Oh beautiful!” is the sort of track you expect from Joe Bonamassa – a great song with a nice long guitar solo that really lets him show off his abilities with a guitar.

The horn section in the excellent “Love ain’t a love song” adds a nice funk feel to the song.

With its use of piano as well as the horn section, “I gave up everything for you, ‘cept the Blues” has a very different sound.  The guitar intro brought to mind Chuck Berry while some of the piano parts made me think of Fats Domino.  The song itself doesn’t sound like either of those people even if small bits may have made me think of them (it’s strange how a second or two of music can bring to mind a different musician).  It’s a damn good track – but then I could say that about every other track on the album.

The album ends with “So, what would I do”.  It’s got a piano intro before Joe joins in on guitar and vocals.  The piano continues throughout the song along with a very simple beat from the percussion.  The organ adds a touch of richness to the sound in places, but generally its the piano and the vocals that are the main sound – unusually for a Joe Bonamassa song, the guitar actually plays a relatively minor role, being used in the same way as the organ, to add a bit of something extra to the sound at a few intervals.  As if to balance that out, there is a nice little guitar solo in the song.  I love this song – I think it’s Joe’s best vocal performance on the album

There’s a huge amount of variety here – rather than picking a single style of the Blues, Joe Bonamassa has written songs that cover a wide range of styles that all fall within the “Blues” category.  It’s a move that has worked extremely well – all the songs are held together by his signature guitar playing, but have enough differences to make sure you’re never in a position where you’re thinking “this song sounds like the last one”.

A stunningly good album.

“Different shades of blue” will be released on 22nd September 2014

Track listing:

1. Hey baby (New sun rising)
2. Oh beautiful!
3. Love ain’t a love song
4. Living on the moon
5. Heartache follows wherever I go
6. Never give all your heart
7. I gave up everything for you, ‘cept the Blues
8. Different shades of blue
9. Get back my tomorrow
10. Trouble town
11. So, what would I do

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A stunningly good album.

About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.