For bluesman Joe Bonamassa's latest solo studio set, and third release this year counting a live album as well as another collaboration with Beth Hart, the guitarist/singer gets pretty personal with songs that we can only guess pertain to a pretty nasty relationship break-up that left Joe in need of some 'redemption'. That of course is also the title of this new album, Redemption, a varied and enjoyable effort that sees Bonamassa once again delivering some pretty special guitar work but also showing his ever increasing songwriting & vocal skills. With a top notch band that includes drummer Anton Fig (David Letterman Band), bassist Michael Rhodes, keyboardist Reese Wynans, horn players Lee Thornburg and Paulie Cerra, harmony vocalist Gary Pinto, background singers Mahalia Barnes, Jade McRae, Juanita Tippins and guitarists Kenny Greenberg and Doug Lancio, he has plenty of support here to help maximize the musical rewards. Produced as always by Kevin Shirley and recorded at various locations, including Blackbird and Addiction Sounds Studios in Nashville, The Cave Australia in Sydney, Studio At The Palms in Las Vegas and the Criteria Hit Factory in Miami FL, Redemption is a great sounding record, and gives us so many snapshots of what Joe Bonamassa is all about.
With the opening drum barrage of "Evil Mama", it almost sounds like Joe is going to start things off with a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll", but then the bluesy guitar licks and horns come crashing through and it's all Bonamassa from that point on. A really catchy tune with lyrics that seem to hint at the trouble Joe's been going through, it sets the stage for the album just fine. "King Bee Shakedown" is a hook laden, bluesy slice of big band jazz & rock, horns a blazing, plenty of backing vocals, and Joe channeling a bit of Brian Setzer with his rockabilly licks. Fans of Bonamassa's all-star band Black Country Communion will love the '70s styled hard rock of "Molly O", and "Deep in the Blues Again" has a rootsy, almost Southern Rock vibe of pure Americana to it, catchy vocals and textured musical passages adding to its glory. The emotional "Self Inflicted Wounds" again hints at the inner turmoil that the guitarist must have gone through, and contains a massive guitar solo along with some passionate vocals and sultry Hammond organ.
It's back to old school, big band music on the jazzy "Pick Up the Pieces", but it's the catchy blues of "The Ghost of Macon Jones", the following song, that provides one of the albums more haunting yet singalong moments. It's here that you can experience just how good a vocalist Bonamassa has become. You'll be reminded of the late Gary Moore on the searing "Just 'Cos You Can Don't Mean You Should", Reese Wynans' simmering Hammond and the soaring horn section allowing for plenty of guitar firepower, and the lyrics again seem to be telling the tale of a brief encounter that perhaps ruined a long term relationship, which leads to Joe screaming for "Redemption" on the chilling title track. ZZ Top styled blues follows on "I've Got Some Mind Over What Matters", followed by the tender acoustic cut "Stronger Now In Broken Places" (the pain & regret that Joe is feeling plainly obvious), and the album closes with the upbeat blues rock track "Love Is a Gamble", honky tonk piano, horns, and sizzling guitar solos highlighting this perfect end to this excellent album.
As a guy who puts out so much material each and every year, you would think Joe Bonamassa would be running out of ideas at some point, but instead it's the complete opposite. Between live albums that contain covers & original songs, collaborations with Beth Hart and others, plus his own solo releases, the busier this guy stays, the more the creative juices keep flowing. Redemption is one of his most well rounded, varied efforts, that, despite the obvious pain he has gone through in his life while making it, help carve it into the winner it is.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. Evil Mama
2. King Bee Shakedown
3. Molly O'
4. Deep In The Blues Again
5. Self-Inflicted Wounds
6. Pick Up The Pieces
7. The Ghost Of Macon Jones
8. Just 'Cos You Can Don't Mean You Should
10. I've Got Some Mind Over What Matters
11. Stronger Now In Broken Places
12. Love Is A Gamble