Bonamassa's Redeeming Blues

Bruce Von Stiers

A few years ago, I knew the name Joe Bonamassa, but didn't really know his music. I happened to volunteer one night for a pledge drive for the local PBS station. They were featuring a concert of Joe's as the main attraction for that night's pledge drive. I became an instant fan that night. Not only was the concert fantastic, Joe had donated one of his guitars for that pledge drive segment.

Over the years, Joe has collaborated with greats such as Eric Clapton and vocalists like Beth Hart. He has also been a member of a rock supergroup and a funk band. Joe has also recorded several solo albums. Now, Right on the heels of the release of his British Blues Explosion Live, Joe is set to release an all new album. This one has some very cool blues. But what else would you expect from one of today's top blues artists.

The new album is titled Redemption. It was recorded all over the place, from Sydney, Australia to Las Vegas to Miami and a couple studios in Nashville. It is being released by Joe's J&R Adventures label. It was produced by Kevin Shirley. Roy Weisman, who is Joe's partner in J & R Adventures, was the executive producer for the album.

The album has twelve songs and a play time of sixty-four minutes. Joe co-wrote all of the songs on the album.

Joe does the lead vocals on the songs and plays guitar. He is joined by Anton Fig on drums, Reese Wynans on piano, upright piano and organ and Michael Rhodes on bass. Also on guitar are Doug Lancio and Kenny Greenberg. Additional performers on the album include Lee Thornburg on trumpet and trombone, Paulie Cerra on saxes, Rob McNelly on guitar, Jim Moginie doing soundscapes and Kate Stone on opsilon handpan. Background vocalists on the album were Mahilia Barnes, Jade Macrae and Juanita Tippins. Some of the musicians provide backing vocals on a song or two. And Jamey Johnson does vocals on one of the songs.

The album opens with Evil Mama. It has a killer rocking blues backdrop, with tough guitar, drums, bass and piano. Joe sings about a woman who has designs on him but he knows she's the devil in disguise. There is a masterful rock blues guitar bit as the bridge.

King Bee Shakedown has a mix of jive and blues. It is a definite head bopping, toe-tapping, get up and dancing kind of song.

Molly O' is a ballad that has a tough rock sounding, head bopping backbeat. It is about a young woman named Molly from Ireland who died in a shipwreck. Although the content is different, it made me think of the song, The Last Song For My Resting Place, which Joe wrote and recorded for the Black Country Communion album, BCCIV. Gary Pinto, as a special guest, did harmony vocals on the song.

The song title, Deep In The Blues Again, might make it seem like it's a traditional blues tune. But it isn't. The song has blues lyrics and a very cool blues rock sound.

With the song Self Inflicted Wounds, Joe delves deep into the blues. Somewhat aching vocals and a bit of tender blues music throughout the song make this a great blues piece.

When I heard Pick Up The Pieces, I envisioned it being performed in a blues club in Memphis or New Orleans. It is a fun, smile effecting light blues piece even though the lyrics tell about a guy's multiple misfortunes. There is some great sax in the song too.

Some blues albums have a ghost or spirit related song. Joe has one on this album in the song, The Ghost Of Macon Jones. It's about the decisions in your life and how the ghost of Macon Jones is reflected in them. This is the song that has Jamey Johnson helping out on vocals.

Digging down into guitar laden blues is Just ‘Cos You Can Don't Mean You Should. Taking advantage of situations to the detriment of others seems to be the theme of the song. There is a tough guitar solo in the middle of the song.

The title track, Redemption, has a Mississippi Delta blues guitar intro. Joe has solid vocals in front of tough, toe tapping blues rock music. Not only is the music great, along with Joe's vocals, the backing vocals are truly awesome. But there is even more to the song than just the blues. The bridge has some very cool rock guitar that reminded me some of Deep Purple's Perfect Stranger album and possibly a bit of Joe Satriani.

You will probably get a smile on your face when listening to I've Got Some Mind Over What Matters. It is a fun and easy, head bopping, blues tune.

Stronger Now In Broken Places is a beautiful, yet sad ballad. This is the song that features soundscapes and opsilon handpan.

The album closes with Love Is A Gamble. This is a great traditional styled blues song.

If you like great blues that is infused with rock guitar, then you will definitely like the style of Joe Bonamassa. And Redemption is Joe at his very best.

Redemption is set to release on September 21, 2018. It will be available at all major music retailers.

For further information, visit Joe Bonamassa's official web site at

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© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers