REVIEW: Joe Bonamassa’s “Black Rock” album

REVIEW: Joe Bonamassa’s “Black Rock” album



 Joe Bonamassa’s “Black Rock”
 by Pauline France


In a 2009 interview with Guitarist magazine, Joe Bonamassa said that “he sees himself as a guy just wanting to be remembered for working hard and doing something good.” With the release of his tenth album, “Black Rock,” he can rest assured that he’ll be remembered for generations to come.

 “Black Rock” is nothing less than stellar. Bonamassa takes you on a captivating journey to the Mediterranean through a wide array of exotic elements incorporated into his songs and outstanding arrangements. 

Along with a group of Greek musicians and his longtime producer, Kevin Shirley, Bonamassa recorded the album in Black Rock Studios in Santorini, Greece. The team had such a wonderful experience recording there, that they decided to name the album after the world-class recording studio.

The disc kicks off with a nice punch in “Steal Your Heart Away,” a Bobby Parker original. Bonamassa turned it into a very solid rock tune with a nice touch of blues. And, as usual, Bonamassa displays his mastery and skills with an outstanding solo.

The album is loaded with bluesy goodness with a Mediterranean twist. With the use of the bouzouki and clarino, “Quarryman’s Lament,” Bonamassa’s composition, and “Bird On A Wire,” Leonard Cohen’s original, are great examples of this. These two ballads with a heavy Mediterranean influence are the result of a very tasteful, soulful combination of Greek music, blues and even a little bit of country.

A very special feature in this album is the collaboration of blues ambassador, B.B. King. B.B. King and Bonamassa crafted a great version of Willie Nelson’s “Night Life.”  They interact beautifully with one another on guitars and vocals, while being backed up by an impressive horn section. The song speaks for itself and makes the record even more desirable.

If you’re in for some foot-tapping, head-nodding action, then listen to “When The Fire Hits The Sea.” This contagious, upbeat, Bonamassa original starts off with a country/powerhouse rock feeling that will make you feel charged up. And to top things off, Bonamassa does a great job with the slide.

Another great feature in the album is Bonamassa’s interpretation of “Three Times a Fool” by the legendary Chicago blues master, Otis Rush. Bonamassa performs a short, upbeat, straight-to-the-point classic Chicago blues with great vocals and a classic Chicago style shuffle.

“Wandering Earth,” Bonamassa’s own composition, is another solid rock-blues tune where you can really appreciate Joe’s heavy tone. His captivating vocals blend beautifully with his heavy, fat, power chord riffs.

“Blue & Evil,” is another one of Bonamassa’s rock-blues compositions. This intense track starts off strong with a guitar/bouzouki jam that hypes you up and leads you to a stimulating, à la Jimmy Page riff that’ll build you up and make you explode – really, just listen for yourself.

And the bluesy goodness doesn’t stop there. In “Look Over Yonders Wall,” a James Clark original, Bonamassa does a lovely rendition of the father of slide’s song. It’s a very upbeat, funky sort of blues tune that’ll surely get you all hyped up.

Joe Bonamassa’s style has indisputably matured since the beginning of his career twenty years ago. In this album, Bonamassa has proven to be more innovative and versatile than ever before, without forgetting to include some good, ole’ wholesome blues. It is truly a gift to the senses.

“Black Rock,” which is set to be released March 23, 2010, will be followed by a multi-country tour taking Bonamassa to the U.S., U.K., Europe, Russia, Japan and Australia.  You don’t want to miss his shows – I know I won’t.

Click here to pre-order “Black Rock”

Click here to see Bonamassa’s tour dates