Review: Joe Bonamassa Dwells in a League All his Own

Joe Bonamassa/Time Clocks/J&R Adventures
3.5 Out of Five Stars

Videos by American Songwriter

At this point in his career, Joe Bonamassa has clearly elevated himself to superstar status. A one-man brand, he’s released a steady string of albums over the last several years while also expanding his efforts by marketing and merchandising specialty items that carry his copyright as well. A firm proponent of blues, particularly those of a hard rock variety, he’s reached a higher plateau in terms of attention and appreciation that few others ever attain, especially when it came to finding a popular niche in a mass marketplace. That’s no accident of course; Bonamassa has created a sound that rings and reflects the vintage sound of ‘60s stalwarts such as Cream, Hendrix, Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, and scores of other British rock icons that he readily acknowledges as his influences through practically every endeavor.

This new album is certainly no exception and on a song such as “Curtain Call,” the Zeppelin-esque flourishes are particularly profound. There’s a striking similarity to the classic “Kashmir” in particular, both in its attitude and intensity. Still, it’s not the only anthemic outreach the album has to offer. The majority of the tracks—“Notches,” “The Heart That Never Waits,” “Rime Clocks,” “Questions and Answers,” and “Known Unknowns” in particular—share a distinct, demonstrative dynamic that grabs immediate attention through a stadium-sized intensity. Once again, Bonamassa breaks the boundaries separating blues from bluster, while establishing commercial credibility in the process.

Of course, purists aren’t always pleased when one tampers with tradition and ventures into those rockier realms, and while Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and Buddy Guy did so successfully and were lauded in return, those that have the same aspirations often come across as posers or pretenders. On the other hand, Bonamassa need not worry. Given his creativity and consistency, he continues to inhabit a league all his own.


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