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Joanne Shaw Taylor - White Sugar

White Sugar

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Ruf Records - RUF 1147

Available from Ruf Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Whenever I see a woman slinging an SG, Les Paul, Flying V, or any of the heavy duty machine-gun axes, I have to step back in trepidation. The very choice implies a strong hand and gutsy approach, and I and many have been severely disappointed in far too great a percentage of the fair sex's purporting to be able to shoulder the load...only to get crushed when push came to shove. April Lawton, Joan Jett, and God only knows how many others have provided a lot of grief, but Joanne Shaw Taylor has arrived to claim territory back, and she's already setting ears and eyes afire.

Taylor isn't daunted by the otherwise male rock and roll environment as she serves up lick after lick with flames in the belly and grit in the backbone. White Sugar is blues rock from the place that put the style on the map: England. Hailing from Birmingham, she swims in the echoes of Kim Simmonds, Peter Green, T.S. McPhee, Eric Clapton, and the giants of the dirty white blues crowd; they're in her blood. In fact, had she been around in Jimi's day, he would've been transfixed. Just catch her sizzling leads in Time Has Come or White Sugar and tell me if I lie. Dave Stewart found Taylor when she was 16 and was so impressed that he asked her to join his post-Eurhythmics/Spiritual Cowboys group D.U.P.

The new belle of hard blues also possesses a smoky set of pipes that warn the listener to expect no nonsense. Not of the faint heart singeth she but of crossed-up love and dirt-dealing males, and damned if she's going to stand for it. Do her wrong and expect an echoing hallway, a slammed door, and an empty forlorn bed. You just can't bring all that across with a symphony or a bevy of horn players, so there's no one sitting in here, no extraneous ornamentation shoring up the hindquarters. It's just Taylor, a bassist, and a drummer in a power trio promoting her every step. She overdubs, of course, filling out the sound completely, but it's all 100% her.

Truth to tell, I love to taunt arrogant female hard rock guitar players due exactly to historied past inabilities to, um, "man up" and play the crap out of the axes they hang too daintily onto, but I'm a-gonna hafta be changin' my evil ways soon if Taylor becomes an influence, 'cause White Sugar is seriously fine bluesrock with bal…er, I mean: ovaries…and it's an important release, to boot. Start clearing the decks, gentlemen, there's a storm coming.

Track List:

  • Going Home
  • Just Another Word
  • Bones
  • Who do You Want Me to Be?
  • Time has Come
  • White Sugar
  • Kiss the Ground Goodbye
  • Heavy Heart
  • Watch 'Em Burn
  • Blackest Day
All songs written by Joanne Shaw Taylor except Bones (Amor / Coltman / Davey / Davey).

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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