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Joanne Shaw Taylor - Nobody's Fool (Album Review)

Monday, 07 November 2022 Written by Simon Ramsay

Photo: Chris Wilson

In 2021, Joanne Shaw Taylor dazzled and delighted with an album of life affirming blues covers, delivered in tandem with producers Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith. Hope was kindled that this chemistry-rich trio might bring the exact same magic to her next batch of original material, which they have done in some style.​

Musicians aren’t always the best judge of their own material, but when Taylor describes her work on this album as that of “a blues guitarist with a soulful voice who performs pop songs” she’s bang on the money. But, although this a very accessible, endearingly catchy effort, she hasn’t sold her soul to the mainstream devil. Incorporating rock ‘n’ roll, boogie blues, west coast AOR, Motown and more, ‘Nobody’s Fool’ is very much a pop record in the classic mould.

Won’t Be fooled Again resembles an ‘80s Fleetwood Mac smash penned by Christine McVie, the title track is a chipper southern rock-tinted number that rolls merrily down Creedence Clearwater Revival’s river and Just No Getting Over You (Dream Cruise) offers an exotic brew of scintillating Hall & Oates yacht rock and pendulous Santana grooves.

Elsewhere, New Love’s joie de vivre makes the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive sound like Leonard Cohen in a rather cantankerous mood, Then There’s You imagines peak Tina Turner fronting ELO, Figure It Out rips like vintage Blondie and, given the right circumstances, Runaway could be a surprise hit. Built around a dexterously tuneful Dave Matthews acoustic lick, it’s made for the opening credits of a glossy US TV rom-com about commitment-phobic young adults. 

Referencing such iconic acts has created a kind of musical shorthand, bestowing these superbly crafted songs with an immediate warmth and familiarity that’s further enhanced by sparkling organic instrumentation (horns, sax, strings), gratifying vocal arrangements and a boatload of elegantly woven melodies and hooks. In fact, the biggest indicator of how impressive Taylor’s songwriting is on this record comes courtesy of its one bum note.  Covering the Eurythmics’ Missionary Man with Dave Stewart is a nice nod to her former mentor, but Taylor’s version sounds flat next to self-penned gems that feature lyrical guitar solos and her barbecued vocals.

Bad Blood is brooding and cinematic as it rides over the rubble of a relationship on a dusky wild west twang. Fade Away’s tender sentiments about the singer’s late mother are nakedly expressed over Tina Guo’s plaintive cello and, with heartache to the fore, The Leaving Kind oozes a tonal similarity to the Beatles While My Guitar Gently Weeps, with Taylor’s six-string crying buckets during a climax that’s unforgivably cut short by the cardinal sin of fading out. 

‘Nobody’s Fool’ might not unleash a barrage of swaggering riffage and prolonged screaming solos, but Taylor has been there, done that, and will no doubt do so again.  In the meantime, this ebullient body of work is, song for song, a supremely well rounded record that takes downbeat bluesy sentiments and, by way of joyful stylistic presentation, banishes them to the bottom of a murky delta. 

Joanne Shaw Taylor Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue November 22 2022 - CARDIFF Tramshed
Wed November 23 2022 - EXETER Exeter Corn Exchange
Fri November 25 2022 - READING Hexagon
Sat November 26 2022 - HASTINGS White Rock Theatre
Mon November 28 2022 - BURY ST EDMUNDS Apex
Wed November 30 2022 - BIRMINGHAM Birmingham Town Hall
Thu December 01 2022 - NEWCASTLE Tyne Theatre & Opera House
Fri December 02 2022 - EDINBURGH Queen's Hall
Sun December 04 2022 - SHEFFIELD Memorial Hall (City Hall)
Mon December 05 2022 - MILTON KEYNES Stables
Wed December 07 2022 - PORTSMOUTH Portsmouth Guildhall
Fri December 09 2022 - STROUD Subscription Rooms
Sat December 10 2022 - IPSWICH Ipswich Corn Exchange
Sun December 11 2022 - HIGH WYCOMBE Old Town Hall

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