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Different Shades of Blue
Joe Bonamassa
Label: J&R Enterprises
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Review Date: September 21, 2014

The short version of this review (as with the past reviews of Bonamassa projects): Love it/Buy it.

Now, for the meat and potatoes of this disc.

“Different Shades of Blue” is Joe Bonamassa’s first studio in two years. Not only that, it’s his first ever offering of all original music and, boy, has he ever done a phenomenal job. Bonamassa says of the effort, “It’s been a while since I’ve been involved in the writing on an entire album. So I decided I wanted to make a completely original blues album. I’ve really had to push myself to make everything I do better than the last project. I know the fans expect it. And I feel like I owe it to the fans to give them an original record after all these years.”

The music making monster didn’t release any new studio projects in order to work with some great Nashville area songwriter – greats like Journey’s Jonathan Cain, Jerry Flowers (Keith Urban, Lady A, Carrie Underwood) and James House (Martina McBride, Diamond Rio and Dwight Yoakam).

“The writers really inspired me, and having access to really great lyricists and songwriters made it such a great experience,” said Bonamassa.

 As was the case of Joe’s last fifteen albums (if you include his work with the incredibly talented Beth Hart and his Black Country Communion work), Kevin Shirley did a brilliant job producing “Different Shades Of Blue”.  Shirley said of the album, “It’s definitely my favorite Joe Bonamassa record to date.”
Boomerocity has to agree.

The eleven cut album opens with the only deviation from all original material: A tip of the six-string hat by playing an amazing eighty second treatment of Hendrix’s “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” as a brilliant entre into “Oh Beautiful!,” (THE Boomerocity favorite) written by Bonamassa and  James House (Martina McBride, Diamond Rio, Dwight Yoakum). Joe’s playing sounding as if the hounds of hell are nipping at his heels and the dust from the crossroads whirling around him. From there, the listener better hold on to their hat.

The second Boomerocity favorite is “Never Give All Your Heart” (co-written with Jonathan Cain). With flavors of Bad Company (and reminiscent of Joe’s “Driving Toward Daylight) and screaming guitar work by Joe, this tune also earned uncountable slaps of the repeat button.

The third Boomerocity favorite is the one song solely written by Bonamassa: “So What Would I Do.” This soulful love song explores the complex and often painful aspects of a relationship between an often absent man and his lady. Joe’s riffs ooze loneliness and frustration, giving the listener just an inkling of what it’s like to be in his. Reese Wynans’ tickling of the ivories sounded so much like Chuck Leavell that I had to look to make sure I hadn’t missed his mention in the album notes.

Each and every cut of “Different Shades Of Blue” is worth the price of the whole disc. Bonamassa fans will, of course, buy it because they know that they won’t be disappointed. They’ll also point to it as a great introduction of him to their friends, making new fans out of them.

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