Joe Bonamassa

Mr. Post-Millennium blues returns with a rough ‘n’ ready twelfth album that “will need to be played loud”.

Words: Henry Yates

If recent soundbites are to be believed, and Joe Bonamassa really does intend to retire when he’s 69, then the blues-rock colossus needs to crack on. Perhaps that explains why the 38-year-old tracked his twelfth album in a breakneck five days, with long-standing producer Kevin Shirley pushing his man to spare the polish.

“Kevin wanted me to be hungry for something more,” Bonamassa says, “and angry at making the music sound right. Really passionate. He wanted less conservative tracks where I sometimes play it safe. That means I fought with the solos to really go out there and have that rough edge. The album sounds energetic and what rock music needs to be: less precise and thought-out. Of course, the blues roots are there, but this album will need to be played loud”.

Due for release on Provogue on March 25, the as-yet-untitled album was initiated last July. “I traveled to Nashville,” Bonamassa recalls, “to write these songs with some of the best guys in the business: James House, Tom Hambridge, Jeffrey Steele, Jerry Flowers, and Gary Nicholson. As far as the lyrics go, you’ll hear your proverbial trains, planes, mountains, valleys, rivers and other blues references like heartbreak and loneliness, but there are some amazing lyrics about getting away from the stressful, crazy times and losing yourself with your special someone. I think anyone will be able to relate.”

With the tracklisting settled, an extended band including two drummers, a brass section and backing singers assembled in late 2015 at Nashville’s Grand Victor Sound Studio. “The atmosphere was dynamic, all tracked live,” says Bonamassa. “Since we recorded the tracks all live, you can tell it was all about the performance…”

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