FAME Review: Joanne Shaw Taylor - Almost Always Never
Joanne Shaw Taylor - Almost Always Never

Almost Always Never

Joanne Shaw Taylor

RUF Records - RUF 1181

Available from RUF Records' online store.

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

Jesus, right from the start, Joanne's laying right into it, throwing out chunky crunchy chords with David Garza paving the sky in eerie keyboard tones, dark, ominous, and Halloweeny. She then spits out the vocals, blues pipes redolent with passion, until a torrid solo rips through and blazes Soul Station up another notch, returning a minute later to shake the earth a second time, revenant a third time at the close, vaporizing whatever was left of the landscape. God almighty, I'm already sweating and gasping, and that's just the first cut of Almost Never Always! Look out, Ana Popovic, Joanne Shaw Taylor's been dining on fire and psychedelicizing her blues-rock heart. The heat's on.

Thank Christ she laid back in the second cut, Beautifully Broken 'cause I was about to call for the EMTs and a rendezvous with their heaviest-duty defibrillator. In case ya hadn't known it, it was the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, himself no slouch when it comes to six strings and song writing, as you well know, who discovered Taylor at the age of 16, instantly recognizing talent when he saw it. Since a stint in his D.U.P. (Da Univerzal Playaz) group, she's done nothing but increase her fame, including, as far as I can tell, a particularly searing solo as a member of Annie Lennox's band at a gig in front of Buckingham Palace (I wasn't there, but, heh!, the anecdote related to me reminds me of Ritchie Blackmore's brazenly incandescent performance in Deep Purple's 70s Royal Albert Hall orchestral date as Malcolm Arnold and Jon Lord looked on, flummoxed while impressed as the killer solo slot extended well beyond its given parameters).

Taylor's true heart lies in soulful blues-rock, but cut forward to Army of One, and you'll see how well she fuses down-home with folk and progressive blues of the Johnny Winter ilk, a stunning little number with slide-player Billy White, otherwise the band's bass player. It'll give ya goosebumps, and there's a touch of the old Wild Turkey band, which boasted Blackmore's bro, present. Tied & Bound possesses a staggered swamp beat upscaled by ascending chords offset by Taylor's lava flow of vocals, highly reminiscent of what was going on decades ago as rock and Chicago blues were still figuring things out, and, man, as always, Garza's right there beside her, working his Wurlitzer to a frazzle. The combination of Taylor's Hendrixy style here athwart Garza's keyboards reminds one of the Ken Hensley / Mick Box alliance within the seminal Uriah Heep band: thick, hot, churning, hypnotic, and moving. But then…there's a lot of that going on in this CD.

Track List:

  • Soul Station
  • Beautifully Broken
  • You Should Stay, I Should Go
  • Piece of the Sky
  • Army of One
  • Jealousy
  • Almost Always Never
  • Tied & Bound
  • A Hand in Love
  • Standing to Fall
  • Maybe Tomorrow
  • Lose Myself to Loving You
All songs written by Joanne Shaw Taylor except
Piece of the Sky (Taylor / Bowe) and Jealousy (Frankie Miller).

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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