main sponsor

Joe Bonamassa: Driving Towards The Daylight

The acclaimed bluesman is back with a positive-sounding album title – but does the record live up to its name? We gave it a spin to find out.

Friday, 19. April 2013  -  by  Russ Thorne

Guitar Planet does not, in any way, condone excessive drinking, or wandering off into the night and doing dark deeds. However, we'd make an exception in the case of Joe Bonamassa's latest offering, because if ever a blues record needed to get leathered on bourbon, rampage through the gloaming and just let itself go, dammit, it's this one.

For a start, there are three covers out of 11 tracks: not a crime in itself, but they represent the key problem here. Songs from Robert Johnson ('Stones in my passway'), Howlin' Wolf ('Who's been talking') and Tom Waits ('New coat of paint') are represented. Alas, the smoothed out treatments they all receive – Waits gets smothered in rippling layers of organ, Wolf is domesticated with a by-the-numbers Zeppelin-esque shuffle and Johnson is unrecognisable under oil-slick production – are maddening, hinting at either a lack of ideas, time, or both.

The vocal sample from Wolf at the start of 'Who's been talking' is a woeful miscalculation, too, his passionate growl only serving to highlight the cavernous absence of soul from the cover that follows – and, disappointingly, the record as a whole.

It's not that the songs are terrible. 'Dislocated boy' starts with a promising swampiness, 'I got all you need' shows flashes of lusty swagger and 'Somewhere trouble don't go' boasts crackles of brilliance like a storm in the far distance, especially when a sinister slide guitar solo lurches out halfway through.

But - and it's a vexing 'but' – that storm never quite breaks. Instead the songs are just too clean, and the production far too sleek. Safely swaddled in the middle of the mix, Bonamassa's playing is technically sound but never inspiring; likewise his vocal doesn't get beyond 'sounding a bit cross', when what the songs need is pain, and fury, and to be taken round the back and roughed up a little.

So maybe let's think of this as a wrong turn, because while it's not bad there's too much at fault with the production and predictable structure (you can feel the insipid 'A place in my heart' coming even before the hand-wringing opening notes) to make it memorable. It needs a tougher, meaner or simply more rough-and-ready live sound – but whatever you do Joe, turn around and head somewhere a little darker, because driving towards the daylight is definitely not the right way to go.

Buy if: you like your blues smooth like a fine wine

Avoid if: you think it should come with a beer chaser and some peanuts, at most

Best bit: the churning mid-section of 'Somewhere trouble don't go'

Previous Next

Follow Us

In The Magazine

20.04.2015 22:02The Who Hits 50: But Where Do They Go From Here?

The Who Hits 50: But Where Do They Go From Here?

Hampered by ill health, but never ones to retire shyly, The Who continue celebrating their 50th anniversary as they contemplate retirement.

Cat: Features
06.04.2015 23:14Don’t Call It A Comeback: Muse, Blur & Faith No More

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Muse, Blur & Faith No More

Guitar Planet grades the creative comebacks from three iconic artists who are attempting to give 2015 a much-needed injection of impetus.

Cat: Features
19.02.2015 22:10Album Round-up: Blackberry Smoke, Papa Roach & Venom

Album Round-up: Blackberry Smoke, Papa Roach & Venom

Guitar Planet takes on new albums by southern stars Blackberry Smoke, nu-metal icons Papa Roach and the legendary Venom.

Cat: Features
15.02.2015 19:345 Things We Learned From The Grammys

5 Things We Learned From The Grammys

The music industry’s glamorous state of the union address was delivered this weekend, but what did the Grammys have to say about guitar music?

Cat: Features
18.01.2015 11:25Hype Check: The Sound Of 2015

Hype Check: The Sound Of 2015

Guitar Planet takes on eight of the most hotly hyped artists seeking to make 2015 their own.

Cat: Features
go to Archive ->