Driving Towards The Daylight - Joe Bonamassa
Joe Bonamassa has slowly accumulated fame with every release he’s been involved with, and is slowly becoming the heir to the blues rock throne that is now occupied by a guy named Clapton. This is his tenth solo release, along with two CD’s with the supergroup Black Country Communion, and he appears as a guest on numerous releases from a number of artists including Leslie West, Walter Trout, and Lee Ritenour. But, I think it’s his side work with guys like Joe Lynn Turner, Glenn Hughes (in Black Country Communion), and the band Europe that have made an impact on his current sound. Bonamassa has always immersed himself in the blues; so much so that he has sounded a bit awkward and uncomfortable in the past with things from other genres. I’ve always appreciated his songs that venture into a more rock style, and I’ve always hoped that he might become more comfortable with the genre. On Driving Towards The Daylight
, Bonamassa can be found stepping into rock songs and he ends up wearing them like an Armani suit.
Let’s take a look at each track:
"Dislocated Boy" has that great "swampy" blues sound that I love. I love the fact that a song that’s almost seven minutes, with two solos, kicks off the album. Although it has a swapy blues sound, the structure is very much that of a rock song.
"Stones in my Passway" has a great slide solo. I love the fact that he's rockin' the blues. The only thing I've grown tired of in the past with Joe, or even Clapton for that matter, is the attachment he has to that "smooth-toned" blues. I've always wanted his blues to have a harsher, nastier tone. I think he gets closer to doing that with this Robert Johnson song.
"Driving Towards The Daylight" is an awesome straight forward rock tune. I love his blues stuff because he does it so well, but I also love when he strays from that comfort zone. This is pretty different for him, and it still really works well.
Love the intro to "Who's Been Talking," with an old blues guy talking and sounding out the rhythm of the tune in the studio. I believe that old blues guy just might be Howlin’ Wolf, being that the song was originally recorded by Wolf in the late 50’s. I’m not crazy about this one as much as most of the other songs on this album. I just feel that the song is very repetitive and doesn’t really go anywhere. There is a nice solo to finish the tune though, and that’s always a pleasure to hear.
"I Got All You Need" is more typical Joe, and nobody does it like he does. This is a groovin’, rockin’ blues tune written by Willie Dixon. I do wish he'd RIP some of these solos a little more, though. What he's playing is perfect and masterful, I just want the solo to bite and scream a little more.
"A Place In My Heart" is a typical slow blues, and his smooth tone is perfect for this one. This is a Bernie Marsden song that reminds me of Gary Moore's "Still Got The Blues." Other than its lack of originality, this is an impressive display of tone and feel.
"Lonely Town Lonely Street" is a killer rock tune. He steps out of the comfort zone a little bit here with a big giant rock riff, and I think it's great. It has a bluesy cadence, but the riff and the solo are rock and roll all the way. We even get treated to a nice battle between Joe’s screaming guitar and
Arlan Schierbaum’s scorching keyboard.
"Heavenly Soul" is drastically different for him. It's a blues tune structure with a typical rock song time signature. It's really a unique song. I like it. I like the harmonies and the organ. This one took me longest to come to terms with, though. I'm still a little uneasy with it actually, but I dig the uniqueness of it.
"New Coat Of Paint" is nothing new and typical fare for Joe, but it's excellent stuff. I love his "cool" here on this cover of the Tom Waits tune. Also, this solo might be my favorite on the album. Wow.
"Somewhere Trouble Don't Go" is probably the most "rock" track. I love to hear him do this kind of straight forward rock stuff. The song plays as a band track with an anthemic refrain that is so different from the rest of the material here. It rocks hard and breaks up the album really well.
"Too Much Ain't Enough Love" is a smokin' Jimmy Barnes tune which Barnes lends his vocals to here. His intensity over the smooth, steady rhythm makes this a really edgy combination. I think the tune stays on track as a steady blues-influenced rock song, but all through the tune you get the feeling that it might end up as a runaway train. It's got that "controlled insanity," "organized chaos" thing going on. And okay, maybe this solo is my favorite on the album; a double wow!
This is really a great release.
I think the hardcore guitar players and the blues aficionados might have some difficulty with this one. There is definitely a slight departure from the blues on a small portion of this album, but most of all it plays as a band effort. I think having Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford playing on seven of these tracks, as well as his exposure to a guy like Glenn Hughes and the Black Country Communion stuff, has really helped him find comfort outside of the blues. Glenn is a very similar artist; well schooled in the blues with a rock and roll heart. Joe is now becoming the reverse of that - well schooled in rock and roll with a blues heart.
On much of the stuff that came before this, Bonamassa is the sun and everything else revolves around him. With Driving Towards The Daylight, he takes on the role of the North Star; one of many lights in the sky, but he continues to burn the brightest.