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White Sugar

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Album Review

She's already being called "the new face of the blues" by the press in her native Britain, but her debut album is the first opportunity most Americans will have to hear Joanne Shaw Taylor's sharp, fiery take on blues-based rock. Opening with the dark and sultry "Going Home," Taylor makes her intentions clear from the very beginning: her sound is raw, funky, and soulful, and she's as likely to reference Jimi Hendrix's R&B-inflected blues-rock as Stevie Ray Vaughan's rock-inflected blues. She's also unwilling to be hemmed in: notice the gorgeous guitar intro on "Just Another Word," and the way that the song goes well outside the lines of traditional blues structure without erasing them. Also notice the especially Hendrix-y "Kiss the Ground Goodbye," the lovely instrumental title track, and the stark, spare "Heavy Heart." The latter is the finest track on the program; it features a brilliant chord progression and a sly bluebeat outro that reveals a sense of humor that is otherwise pretty much hidden. The album ends on a very powerful note, with the slow-burning "Blackest Day." The challenge on this song is the solo, and she meets that challenge brilliantly, twice, and in two very different ways: once with gentle regret and then again with forsaken rage. A spectacular debut from a major talent.

Biography

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Joanne Shaw TaylorTaylor embodies all the elements of modern blues, even if she sings with a distinctively British accent. Given her extraordinary dexterity as a guitarist and well-developed vocal chops, Taylor was already a sensation on the blues festival circuit in both the U.S. and Great Britain when only in her mid-twenties. Taylor caught the blues bug as a young teenager growing up in the Birmingham area. She heard guitarists...
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White Sugar, Joanne Shaw Taylor
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