This Lady sings the Blues and plays them better than most
For one so young Joanne Shaw Taylor is not only treat as an equal in what might be the most snobbish of musical genres but genuinely revered by many much older guitarists and this, her third album could well be the one that attracts the ears of Big League Promoters across the Atlantic Ocean.
Joanne’s last album; DIAMONDS IN THE DIRT was generally perceived to be ‘career defining’ but ALMOST ALWAYS NEVER actually starts where that album left off and with the aid of some excellent production work from Mike McCarthy; Joanne Shaw Taylor throws down a gauntlet to the rest of the burgeoning British Blues-Rock scene.
Soul Station which opens the album has all the hallmarks of a timeless classic and Beautifully Broken which follows is a breathy heartbreaker with a Rhodes organ complimenting the nicely choppy guitar breaks before Shaw-Taylor slides in her own trademark fluid solos.
While Joanne was originally billed as a ‘teenage guitar prodigy’ it’s her maturing vocals on ALMOST ALWAYS NEVER that have impressed me the most; although her guitar playing is still astounding! On this album she sounds as if she could have been the offspring of an illicit union between Rory Gallagher and Maggie Bell as her voice has a lived-in richness to it that is perfect for the Blues, but it’s also clear and smooth enough to cross over onto the commercial radio stations.
Several songs are definitely strong enough for radio play with her version of Frankie Miller's Jealousy being absolutely perfect for a late night when you’ve had one to many alcoholic beverages as it will induce even the toughest of masculine souls to shed a tear.
Tied and Bound isn’t as risqué as the title might suggest but a tale of a shattered romance and Shaw Taylor appears to make her guitar growl during the choruses, which is really impressive.
ALMOST ALWAYS NEVER has been a pleasant surprise as I didn’t expect this daughter of the Black Country to be able to match the heady heights she achieved only two years ago with DIAMOND IN THE DIRT but; after repeated listening in and out of the car I think she’s actually surpassed that award winning album.