Joe Bonamassa's New Solo Album Sloe Gin
Voted by Guitar Player readers as 2007's Best Blues Guitarist, blues-rock guitar virtuoso, vocalist and songwriter Joe Bonamassa is set to release his seventh solo album, Sloe Gin, on August 21. Bonamassa's fourth release on his own J&R Adventures imprint, the disc re-teams him with producer Kevin Shirley (Joe Satriani, Black Crowes, Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin), who produced 2006's You & Me, which debuted at No 1 on Billboard's Blues chart in June of last year.
"Sloe Gin is different than anything I've ever done before. I know we bettered You & Me", said Joe during a quick break in the non-stop touring that continues - in Europe and the U.S. - throughout '07. "The songs are more refined, and I was concentrating on them as a whole rather than only thinking about a 50-bar guitar solo. Also, singing is a bigger part of it for me than ever before, and it's awesome to have that space - to connect with fans on a musical and lyrical level."
Bonamassa attributes much of the disc's power to his continued collaboration with Kevin Shirley - "It's unbelievable, he takes my vision, augments it, and brings it further than I ever would have thought to." Joe specifically cites his influence on the title track "Sloe Gin", a slamming, raw blues-rock opus clocking in at over eight minutes. "I never would have found that one on my own", says Joe, "or gone where Kevin went with it. I really owe that whole sound for me to him."
Shirley unearthed the rare song, written by Bob Ezrin and Michael Kamen, from Tim Curry's little-known 1978 solo debut LP, but Bonamassa inhabits its rough edges and melancholy force - vocally and instrumentally - as if it was written just for him. Joe's live performances of "Sloe Gin" at shows are currently drawing major fan chatter and Internet buzz. "A few bars into it", he says, "people are singing along. It's going to be the biggest song we've ever had."
Other tracks from Sloe Gin already making their way into Bonamassa's concerts include the original song "Another Kind Of Love", the Chris Whitley-penned "Ball Peen Hammer", and Joe's adaptation of the Ten Years After classic, "One Of These Days." Album highlights also include the originals "India", "Dirt In My Pocket" and "Around The Bend", plus Bonamassa's smokin' versions of Paul Rodgers' "Seagull", the John Martin classic blues nugget "Jelly Roll" and Charles Browns' "Black Night."
Sloe Gin effortlessly ranges through heavy blues and acoustic numbers alike, a textured flow that Bonamassa says was in part inspired by Rod Stewart's legendary 1969 debut solo LP. In the liner notes, Joe adds, "I sequenced the album as a throwback to the Side A/Side B set-up of vinyl records ... listening to an album as a whole is a lost pastime. I wanted to bring that experience back around."
Renowned for his fluid phrasing and post-modern fusion of traditional roots blues with rock and roll guts, Bonamassa began playing guitar at age four, and toured with blues icon B.B. King when he was twelve. Recently, Joe was named Best Blues Guitarist in Guitar Player Magazine's 2007 Readers' Choice Awards. He's also the youngest member of the Memphis, TN-based Blues Foundation's Board of Directors, and is spokesperson for their respected Blues In The Schools program.
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