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JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR White Sugar Ruf Records (2009)

Joanne Shaw Taylor

This debut album is a bit of a shocker. Not in a dreadful sense, but in the maturity and background of the artist.

Slide the neat vinyl replica disc into the CD drawer and press 'play' and be prepared to be blown away by the fresh 'plug in and play' style of blues reminiscent of guitar heroes such as Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

And then there's the lady's voice - burnt honey delivered in a slow southern style. Think Michelle White, or Bonnie Rait with the sex appeal of youth.

But the real shock horror revelation is that Joanne Shaw Taylor is a Brummie lass in her early twenties.

Touring with her own band since the tender age of 14, Jo was 'discovered' by David A Stewart at the age of 16. So impressed was he, that the following year she spent her summer touring with DUP - Dave S, Candy Dulphur, Mudbone Cooper (Parliament / Funkadelic) and Jimmy Cliff. And if you think about it, that's exactly how the likes of Hendrix learned how to spank his plank.

What you get with White Sugar is an exciting new blues guitar talent produced by Jim Gaines (Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins). It's probably one of the most 'honest' albums you'll hear this year - no frills, no effects just a bunch of soulful blues tracks played as if Jo had just plugged in in your sitting room. The guitar and vocals are well up in the mix and all the better for it.

And while there's an element of déjà vu (after all, how many times can you reinvent the blues) White Sugar is like taking a cold shower - fresh and invigorating.

***½

Review by Pete Whalley

Best of 2009


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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