Joe Bonnamasa- The Ballad of John Henry
( Provogue Records PRO 7272 2)

From Aural Innovations May 2009 update

It has been a few years since I have heard a Joe Bonammasa record but this is pretty impressive and it contains a lot of great songs and excellent guitar playing and tone. This is apparently his 9th record (I have only 4 of them). The record contains quite a few really personal songs about ex-girlfriends, things important to Joe and great liner notes about inspiration and other stuff for each track. He has written some really nice liner notes as well in the deluxe digipack version that I picked up cheap in London. The opening and title track has a great guitar riff and is not really a ballad at all. Slow and heavy. Stop is a nearly 7 min blues track with some really great guitar. I think he has the best tone ever on this record. Last Kiss has a rough edge guitar riff and some nice Hammond as well. Cool track. A cover of Tom Wait’s Jockey Full of Bourbon is next and musically it is a really great version but vocally, it just does not do it for me, when you have heard Tom sing it. Story of a Quarryman, with the message from Joe, that you should play this one LOUD… Awesome sound and song. Lonesome road Blues is one of Joe’s old songs and a faster paced driving track. Short track. Happier Times is a slow dark track with some great acoustic guitar playing. Fantastic stuff. Really moving.. Feelin’ Good features some slide guitar to compliment acoustic and other guitars.. Lots of guitars on this one. Funkier than a Mosquito’s Tweeter he uses the same set up as Jeff Beck was using back in 1974! The track is not all that funky actually (except the horns-very JB inspired). The Great Flood, Joe says is the best song he has ever written. You have to make up your own mind. From the Valley features his 1931 national steel body guitar with some nice delay in this short instrumental track. Great sound. As the Crow Flies, a Tony Joe White track ends the CD and Joe rips… Great album.

Check out Joe's cool web site at:

Reviewed by Scott Heller

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