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Joe Bonamassa - Redemption (Album Review)

Thursday, 27 September 2018 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Christie Goodwin

Not content with resuscitating the once ailing blues-rock scene for a new generation, Joe Bonamassa has been refining and expanding his musical skillset with every release, seemingly intent on achieving some kind of career defining apotheosis. His most complete artistic statement to date, ‘Redemption’ testifies that Bonamassa’s metamorphosis from guitar hero into all round creative powerhouse is now complete.

Irrepressibly diverse, unflinchingly honest and cinematically epic, this is Bonamassa’s third record in a row of self-penned material and represents another bold leap forward. If ‘Blues of Desperation’ and ‘Different Shades of Blue’ had a baby boy who was raised listening to ‘Dust Bowl’ and classic singer-songwriter fare, ‘Redemption’ is the album he’d grow up to make.

Evil Mama is a bestial blast of swaggering blues-rock, its booming grooves and sinister brassy glare topped off with an unexpectedly soulful hook and immensely constructed guitar solo.

King Bee Shakedown, meanwhile, is a horn heavy explosion and gas-guzzling Americana anthem Deep In The Blues Again harkens back to ‘So It’s Like That’, only with added gospel uplift courtesy of his regular backing singers.  

Elsewhere, the folklore-flavoured Molly O – which feels like a blood relative of Black Country Communion’s The Last Song For My Resting Place - could be Mountain Climbing and Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir battling it out on the high seas.

Just ‘Cos You Can Don’t Mean You Should, a succulent slab of gloriously soulful blues, and the dusky resonator-flavoured title track epitomise how well Bonamassa’s exceptional band (which includes two extra guitar players, resulting in some lovely interplay and harmony licks) have captured each song’s potent lyrical imagery.  

Although their work is first rate, such contributions have clearly been inspired by the strength of the material. Whether it’s the inebriated in New Orleans jazz strains of Pick Up The Pieces, haunting gothic country-rocker The Ghost Of Macon Jones – a duet with Jamey Johnson that sounds ripe to be covered by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – or familiar 12 bar workout Love Is A Gamble, Bonamassa’s ability to sculpt exceptional songs in numerous genres offers further proof just how much he’s grown as a writer.

The whole record revolves around characters who are either sinner or sinned against, traversing a wide amount of lyrical and emotional ground in a way that mirrors the album’s sprawling sonics and Bonamassa’s recent personal problems. Having endured a period of soul searching, Self-Inflicted Wounds and Stronger Now In Darker Places are his most moving cuts since Happier Times.  

Bonamassa has never made a front-to-back classic that excels on every level. Until now. When the dust settles and he hangs up his suit and shades, ‘Redemption’ could mark the moment the man from Utica entered a period of creativity that, should it continue to hit such dizzying artistic heights, cemented his legacy as one of the great all-rounders of this – or any – generation.

Joe Bonamassa Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Thu October 11 2018 - PLYMOUTH Plymouth Pavilions
Fri October 12 2018 - NOTTINGHAM Motorpoint Arena Nottingham
Sat October 13 2018 - BOURNEMOUTH BIC
Mon April 22 2019 - GLASGOW SEC Armadillo
Wed April 24 2019 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall
Thu April 25 2019 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall
Fri April 26 2019 - LONDON Royal Albert Hall

Click here to compare & buy Joe Bonamassa Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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