A Guitar with a Woman's Eyes
Dave Stewart got it right when he saw a great guitarist about to break out in this young lady, and he took her on tour. The blues ran rampant through her British veins. At 16 years of age, Joanne Shaw Taylor began a career that is still taking shape on her fifth record, Wild, two decades later. Enter Bonnie Raitt and Jeff Buckley, in 2016, her style evolves into a mix of rock and roll through the eyes of a woman that has a lot to say.
Joanne, in fact, never considered herself to be strictly a blues artist, despite recognizing that it is one of her major influences, and as a kid she listened to Robert Johnson. On the altar of her outstanding idols is, of course, Stevie Ray Vaughan, an inevitable reference to almost all great guitarists, but also Free, Paul Kossoff, Gary Moore, Clapton...She makes clear that she's not trying to set a trend, nor open borders, but just do it right, enjoy herself as a songwriter, and go down in music history as a singer/songwriter. That´s it. She doesn't want to just be the “new face of blues”. As lovely as it is.
Whether she wants it or not, Joanne Shaw Taylor is also destined to headline more than one page in the encyclopedia of the 6-string. Her guitar is the essence of her songs, the one that gives them the strength she says she found on a Les Paul from the 60s, “big, heavy, with a boss sound, just the way I Like it.” That's how she put it in an interview 3 years ago to promote her first live album, Songs From The Road.
In reality, she was -and still is- a ‘Fender girl´ who used to change between the Telecaster and Strat, according to the song and her mood. Her reasoning was the usual: they were more ’flexible´ and versatile than the `flashy’ Gibsons. While she was growing as much in age as in technique, Taylor learned enough to take a dare with them. She needed them for her new numbers in the key of rock.
Her pretty girl is, however, a Telecaster 1966 Esquire which she practically never took off for ten years...until, as tradition dictates of great guitarists, the airport luggage lads almost destroy them, so she decided not to take it out of the U.K again. Not even when she moved to Detroit, her base of operations in the U.S.A.
On Wild, Taylor wanted to take the risk, to open a new stage in which she can be uncomplicated, to stop being just a young promise of the blues, and become a Guitar reality in the broadest sense of the word, in capitals; yet without losing the spirit of her roots. The key appears to be in having chosen a producer, Kevin Shirley, who offered his service and all his experience working with Joe Bonamassa available.
A soul choir is the element that joins the electric outburst of Dyin´To Know and Ready To Roll, with the melodic Wild Is The Wind, the piano of Leon Russell on My Heart's Got A...only to fade away into a marvelous and enigmatic cover of Gershwin's Summertime, in which, be it a Les Paul or her beloved Esquire, the beauty of her guitar makes this album an authentic gem.
(Images: ©Bob Marquart & ©KFoto71 from flickr)