Review: Joanne Shaw Taylor – White Sugar

Posted on: Thursday, May 21, 2009


“White Sugar”

(Ruf Records: RUF 1147)

Here’s an impressive major label debut from a young lady who seems to have been around for ever on the British blues scene, despite her still tender years – born in 1986. Joanne Shaw Taylor has had the female blues guitar market pretty much to her self in the UK since she first toured at aged 14, and on “White Sugar” she shows a maturity, both in songwriting and playing, way beyond her age.

Recorded in Tennessee, with crack producer Jim Gaines (SRV, Albert Collins, Bobby Mack) at the helm, and the top rhythm section of Steve Potts on drums, and David Smith on bass, the album’s ten tracks possess nine originals, and just one cover – a mighty version of The Hoax’s “Bones”, off the “Humdinger” album.

Her vocals are both sweet and tender, and gritty when required, with her fiery guitar licks of the highest calibre. The opening “Going Home” is a mid-tempo rocker that builds; with the following “Just Another Word” riding on a Memphis soul groove, with some lovely clipped funky guitar. The afore-mentioned “Bones” struts in fine Texas style, with the rocking “Who Do You Want Me To Be?” containing more biting guitar, and backing vocals from two ladies simply known as Vicky and Heather.

“Time Has Come” has echoes of The Hoax again, a rolling blues with lashings of sweet guitar; the title cut “White Sugar” has a New Orleans rumba feel to it, with a switch of pace on the very nice “Heavy Heart” – a soulful poppy song, with nice vocal and nice groove.

Taylor digs into a Texas feel again on “Watch ‘Em Burn”, driven by the excellent throughout Steve Potts and David Smith; with the closing epic 8-minute plus “Blackest Day” being a gritty slow blues with some sweet leads, building to intense solos, and smouldering vocal – a very fine end to a most impressive album.

It’s easy to see how Joanne Shaw Taylor has been feted by musicians such as Dave Stewart – this is a very classy effort from the girl from the Black Country of the West Midlands, and comes highly recommended! With the likes of Dani Wilde arriving on the scene now it looks like the UK will have a few lady blues players to savour!




May 21st, 2009 at 17:47
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You can also add Chantel MacGregor to the lady blues players!