December 10, 2009 by esarsea
At 23 years young, Joanne Shaw Taylor‘s debut offering White Sugar reminds me why I love guitar-based, power-trio electric blues.
Recorded in Jim Gaines Studio in Memphis, White Sugar features 10 tracks, 9 of which being Taylor originals. Joining Joanne in studio were Steve Potts on Drums and Dave Smith on bass.
White Sugar is a no-nonsense, stripped down and invigorating brand of electric blues, showing Joanne’s named influences of SRV, Albert Collins and Jimi Hendrix. Taylor, who started playing guitar at age 8, handles her Telecaster with ease — guiding it through gentle passages, funky chops, soulful chords and blistering solos — all without a hint of pretense.
Joanne is equal to the task on vocals. Smokey yet silky smooth and articulate. Imagine a mature Susan Tedeschi…somewhat softened and without the hard edge, yet with plenty of power and emotion.
A real bonus to this CD is the light-handed approach to production and engineering. Someone got it right. Rather than put out an overly-balanced and compressed uni-level recording that promotes passive listening and which holds the listener at arms length, White Sugar is a very live sounding record that invites the listener in. There’s a lot of open space on this CD where one can crawl inside and get comfortable with it, and other places where you just hang on and enjoy the ride. The end result is a living, breathing musical experience that plays for and with you, not at you.
As debut albums go, White Sugar compares favorably to Joe Bonamassa’s debut release, A New Day Yesterday — albeit lacking some of Joe’s fretboard prowess. But that’s not what Joanne Taylor Shaw is about. Her guitar playing is great, but it’s more about the overall vibe and feel with her…and it feels really, really good.
I’m half tempted to fire up the whole Street Team thing again. We’ll see.
White Sugar was released on Germany’s Ruf Records (pronounced “roof”) in February 2009 — the same label as Anysley Lister, Coco Montoya, Ana Popovic, Walter Trout, Robin Trower, the late Jeff Healey and others.
Pick up a copy – you’ll be glad you did.