Different Shades Of Blue is Joe Bonamassa's first studio album since two years, and it contains original song material only. Furthermore, I am glad to say that Bonamassa returns to real blues(-rock) and there he is at his best. The new album contains eleven tracks, it was recorded in Las Vegas, and produced by Kevin Shirley (Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith). Bonamassa was assisted by Reese Wymans (organ), Carmine Rojas (bass guitar), Anton Fig (drums), Lenny Castro (percussion), Lee Thornburg (trumpet, trombone) and Ron Dzjubla (saxophone).
Most of the tracks are rather compact, but, having said that, Bonamassa's guitar solos really are top notch on this album. The best ones can be heard in the heavy, bluesy Oh Beautiful. The slow blues ballad Heartache Follows and then come blues ballad with catchy chorus, Different Shades Of Blue. The other songs are also great blues rockers, but not as outstanding as the three aforementioned ones. You can even enjoy boogie woogie up-tempo songs like I Gave Up Everything For You, 'Capt The Blues, or the Stevie Ray Vaughan-like Love Ain't A Love Song, featuring a really aggressive guitar solo. My least favorite song is called Trouble Town, which is kind of funky; featuring horns and a redundant saxophone solo. The album opens with the short instrumental Hey Baby (New Rising Song), which is, of course, a Jimi Hendrix song title from the album Rainbow Bridge (1971). Bonamassa's truly amazing album ends with a typical Bonamassa blues ballad. So, What Would I Do starts with a long - maybe too long - piano intro, followed by strings and emotional vocals by Joe, and in the middle of the track the listener is treated to a nice, melodic guitar solo, before the song fades away with the piano.
Different Shades Of Blue is a great blues album, which will be loved by prog-heads as well. Certainly a must for lovers of amazing guitar playing. Play it loud and play your air guitar along with it, if you like...
**** Martien Koolen (edited by Esther Ladiges)
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