FREE Subscription - For more information  CLICK HERE



Back To Reviews page

Joanne Shaw Taylor - Diamonds In The Dirt

Ruf Records

10 Tracks: 45min 21 secs

In preparing to write this review, I must have listened to this album for the 20th time. It just keeps getting better and better. Each time I listen there is some new subtlety that worms its way into my consciousness. It is unusual to do this at the start of a review, but there is only one word to use for this one magnifique!

Second (or follow-up) CDs are often said to be a problem, artists too often deviating from a path apparently mapped out in the first set, to become self-indulgent, self-absorbed and self-satisfied. Not a trace of any of that stuff here.

Joanne grew up in the industrial area of the UK sometimes called the Black Country, not for any racial reasons but because coal mining, coke making, iron foundries and steel mills had, by the beginning of the 20th Century made it an area of pollution rarely equalled at that time, anywhere in the world. Strangely, although in the absence of coal, a similar urban/industrialisation is to be seen in Detroit city, which recently seems to have become JST’s spiritual home and refers, on her Facebook page, and with some pride, to the Detroit Red Wings as ‘her’ NHL team. That, in the time since her first album for Ruf (White Sugar) she has found a niche in the USA, is apparent from close listening to this CD. As always she has a plethora of super licks to deliver on her Tele, but it is in the singing that the biggest changes had occurred.

Joanne was recently awarded the accolade of Female Singer of the Year in the 2010 British Blues Awards and that was before this CD came out. Her singing on this album is simply magnificent. No false emotion or anachronistic growling and screaming, just controlled vocals in a rich alto voice that has echoes of Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Mavis Staples. All that time touring in the USA, listening to US music (and the singing lessons she has referred to on Facebook) has paid off.

The axe work is accomplished and all the songs were written by Joanne. The lyrics are filled with poetry and passion. Outstanding tracks include the jaw dropping opener ‘Can’t Keep Living Like This’ and the title track ‘Diamonds In The Dirt’; a loping broken-heart lyric delivered like a gospel song. Check out too ‘Lord Have Mercy’; powerful vocals with a guitar part Billy Gibbons would be proud of.

There is more than a bit of traditional gospel styling in Joanne’s delivery now. Could she be persuaded to do some traditional gospel on her next CD? However, in the meantime, this one is so good it’s already charting and must stand her in good stead for more awards.

Reviewer Ian McKenzie lives in England. He is the editor of Blues In The South ( a monthly flier providing news, reviews, a gig guide and all kinds of other good stuff, for people living and going to gigs along the south coast of England. Ian is also a blues performer (see and has a web cast regular blues radio show on www.phonic.FM in Exeter (Wednesdays: 1pm Eastern/ 12 noon Central).

To submit a review or interview please contact:

For more information please contact:


Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine
 Copyright - Blues Blast Magazine
2010    Design by: Moxi Dawg Design