Almost Always Never - Joanne Shaw Taylor
Black country born and raised, Joanne Shaw Taylor, has blues in the blood but Almost Always Never is anything but a straight forward blues album. For her third studio release Joanne has worked with producer Mike McCarthy and a set of new players, but what stands out is just how mature and accomplished Joanne's writing has become.
Joanne has said, 'I had the opportunity to write the songs I've always wanted to write with an all-star cast to support and nurture them but also to push me and this album to places I would not have been capable of reaching without them.'
a frenzy of fuzzed up funk and upper neck guitar strangulation
Knowing how to make an entrance, opening number Soul Station, works itself up into a frenzy of fuzzed up funk and upper neck guitar strangulation. There's a spontaneity which suggests a cocktail of first-takes and having room to roam as throughout the album, especially felt on the foot stomping motorik acoustic shuffle of 'Army Of One', complete with slide guitar and mandolin.
Having won 'Best British Female Vocalist' in 2010 and 2011 at the British Blues Awards is no mean feat and 'Jealousy', a brooding low slung blues, gives Joanne the platform to prove the judges right with her tremulous biting tones sorting through love's tangled web. In contrast, the title track is all sweet restraint and brevity as life's lessons unfold - 'you crash, you burn, but you'll live and you'll learn'.
Locked on an addictive riff, Tied & Bound is bent into a thousand shapes, where keyboards - an essential element - get a chance to raise their voice. And kicking up a darker storm is 'Standing To Fall' followed by the swirling dub-like Maybe Tomorrow. Tempered with snappy fluidness (Beautifully Broken) and soulful brightness (You Should Stay, I Should Go) Joanne covers a lot of ground, yet retains a cohesive vibe. For every example of amped-up abandon there's a track of downtempo imagination to match, making for a riveting release which borders on the classic.