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The world is full of "great guitarists", but...
on 21 May 2010
There have of course been many good guitarists - past and present - so, for me, the question is not: how good is so-and-so? (partly because that is impossible to quantify), but more: does their playing move me? Are they able to communicate some real emotion with their playing? The concept of the next great guitar hero has long since bored me - give me good bands with great songs, because that is the essence of good music; rather than some virtuoso noodling away for 20 minutes on his own.
So, with that mindset - and no pre-conceived opinions - I come to this album, my first Bonamassa purchase. It's a mix of rock, blues, acoustic and original styles. Yes, he can certainly play... but for much of the time I find I am only interested, rather than engrossed. Easily the best song is Sloe Gin, which is a cut above everything else on the album, in fact, a truly great song - and Joe's voice is excellent, as opposed to his rather breathy (almost hesitant) delivery on much of the album. His playing on this song is also wonderful - expressive and controlled - and if the rest of the album had song-writing of this quality, it would be a five-star album. Unfortunately, the other songs are a bit patchy - a mix of guitar virtuoso stuff and bog-standard blues - and I sadly found myself fast-forwarding to the next track on more than one occasion.
Without Sloe Gin, this would have rated 2 stars with me - in no way a reflection of Bonamassa's ability - but that one song is worth an extra star on its own.