REVIEW: Joe Bonamassa – Royal Tea (Musicalypse Archive)

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Joe Bonamassa returns to the British Blues Explosion that gave him inspiration to create a new album. Every release, Joe Bonamassa shifts through the gears of his instrument with such dexterity that each new record becomes an event in its own right. A million miles away from the roots manoeuvring “Royal Tea” is an exceptional record that sees Joe and his band exploring a whole different aspect of the blues.“Royal Tea” can be expected on October 23rd, 2020, via J&R Adventures/Mascot Label Group.

This new album contains ten tracks that make up a collection of varying styles & tempos, resulting in another incredibly enjoyable listen from start to finish. As we know that Bonamassa was hugely influenced by English guitar heroes like Eric Clapton and CREAM, John Mayall & THE BLUESBREAKERS, and Jeff Beck, he himself has added a bit more of a British twist into the album by recording the tracks in the legendary Abbey Road Studios in St. John’s Wood, London. How could he possibly take it even further? By inviting some interesting musicians to participate like former WHITESNAKE guitarist Bernie Marsden, pianist & SQUEEZE founding member Jools Holland, and ex-CREAM lyricist Peter Brown to co-write with him, of course.

The album feels different from the start, as an orchestral introduction combines with a glorious guitar tone, giving the music a cinematic presence that is unlike anything Bonamassa has attempted before. With closely harmonised vocals and some particularly sensitive guitar playing, “When One Door Opens” is aptly named, seeing Joe and his band exploring whole new avenues of the blues, with good taste that reaches fruition when Joe Bonamassa unveils a monster guitar riff that kicks the song into overdrive.

Title track “Royal Tea” is an instant foot tapper and allows us to enjoy Reece Wynans’ Hammond organ expertise, trading riffs & chords with the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer, all nicely blended with exquisite backing vocals. Furthermore, Joe Bonamassa always knows how to deliver an outstanding and heart-warming ballad and “Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye” is no exception. Powerful and emotive, it tells the tale of break-ups and the loneliness that can follow. A warm, distorted bassline kicks off “Lookout Man” and is soon joined by harmonicas & harmonies. “High Class Girl” is a swinging shuffle of warmness which has you singing along after only a few listens.

The first single released earlier this year was “A Conversation with Alice,” allowing avid fans a taste of what Bonamassa would be serving up later on. “I Didn’t Think She Would Do It” once again borders on the faster-paced elements of Bonamassa’s styles & playing and it’s another track that highlights the strengths & togetherness that Bonamassa’s long time band has with Anton Fig (drums) powering through while Michael Rhodes (bass) and Reese Wynans (keyboards) combine to deliver a full & complete sound.

“Beyond The Silence” gives a sense of the Wild West, easily painting a sonic picture of a deserted street with a tumbleweed blowing in the dust… that is, until the chorus opens it up to be another one of the standout tracks on this release. Big band jive ‘n’ swing is where they take us for “Lonely Boy,” with Wynans showcasing his boogie-woogie piano skills and Bonamassa with that classic guitar tone reminiscent of the era around Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock.” The album closes with a track that winds this energetic album down; “Savannah” is an acoustic based cut with a hint of gospel to it that channels a gently romantic mood and again showcases Joe’s mellow side. He takes to this singer-songwriter material quite nicely – it’s simply brilliant and brilliantly simple.

The British undertones throughout this album are just subtle enough and at the same time glorious! Once more, Joe Bonamassa has created another world of emotional stories and landscapes fused into a single wonderful album. Fans old and new will surely love this album due to its outstanding quality. Styles, sounds, and differing vibes aplenty, Joe Bonamassa proves once more that he can do very little wrong.

Written by Peter Jerman
Musicalypse, 2020
OV: 1311
OS: 9/10

Tracklist

  1. When One Door Opens
  2. Royal Tea
  3. Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye
  4. Lookout Man
  5. High Class Girl
  6. A Conversation With Alice
  7. I Didn’t Think She Would Do it
  8. Beyond The Silence
  9. Lonely Boy
  10. Savannah

Lineup

Joe Bonamassa

Label

Mascot Label Group

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