JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR – The Dirty Truth [Deluxe Version] (2016)
Seems British guitarist and singer JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR is some kind of sensation in UK’s classic rock scene, but her last, fourth studio album “The Dirty Truth” is my first approach to the lady’s music.
The record appeared some time ago, but now it’s being re-released as “The Dirty Truth [Deluxe Version]” featuring 5 bonus tracks recorded live showcasing Taylor’s terrific stage presence.
“The Dirty Truth” marks Joanne Shaw Taylor second time working with producer Jim Gaines (the first being on her studio debut some five years ago) with the goal of showing her more intimate but at the same time vital rocking side.
The record plays out like a heady combination of not-quite-aggressive and not-quite-mellow bluesy classic rock, with a clear commercial orientation.
Taylor’s songs just sort of flow off of the record naturally, almost as though they’d always been out there somewhere and Taylor merely uncovered them and made them accessible.
An album to sink into, “The Dirty Truth” will have you hooked from the outset.
The slinky guitar riff that kicks off opening track ‘Mud, Honey’ underpins Joanne’s beautiful vocal delivery which is so intimately recorded it feels like she’s standing in the room next to you. And then there’s the solo. The extended guitar work out that blisters, snarls and sparkles in equal measure as Joanne demonstrates her prowess on the guitar without ever once making it feel like she’s doing anything other than serving the song itself.
Her playing is so organic, so beautifully phrased that you’re left in awe of her playing even as for the first few listens you’re too busy tapping your foot to fully take it in.
Next, the title track has a delicate groove to it, the sort best suited to the open air and the summer sun and when Steve Potts kicks in with the drums the song really takes flight, pushing the listener further on down the road with its comfortable beat and sizzling solos.
‘Wicked Soul’ sees Joanne allowing a touch of grit to enter her voice on a song that benefits greatly from Rick Steff’s swirling synth and Dave Smith’s tight bass work, and it’s the sort of memorable and melodic workout that would have sleepwalked into the charts back into the Eighties.
The slow ‘Fool in Love’ operates in the same ball park as Dire Straits if they’d been fronted by a young Tina Turner. Turning the temperature up several notches, ‘Wrecking Ball’ has the kind of guitar riff that demands movement, whist Joanne’s dusty voice speaks of a whiskey too many on the road and a passion that remains undimmed.
‘Tried, Tested & True’ is a wonderfully understated song with quiet, clean guitar and laid back percussion driving it, then one of the highlights on the album surely must be the gutsy, gritty ‘Outlaw Angel’, which is a wonderfully distorted blues stomp complete with extended solo breaks.
What makes this, as every track, special, is the personal delivery of Joanne who not only sings but inhabits each and every song, making each one feel personal and deeply intimate. It’s a gift few artists have and one that Joanne seems to hone to a sharper point with each and every tune here.
One of the album’s hardest rockers – and a personal favorite – ‘Struck Down’, has a powerful riff that runs through it like a rod of iron and offers up some tasty solos to boot.
This Deluxe Version include 5 tracks recorded at a Glasgow show, and most of the performances are even more hot with a raw (still melodic) delivery and a great vibe.
‘Natural‘ is a good term to describe “The Dirty Truth” and Joanne Shaw Taylor’s aesthetic in general. Everything Taylor does seems to have a certain inertia to it, as though one idea gives way to the next, and to the next, until “The Dirty Truth” is over and you’re reaching for the ‘repeat’ button.
Taylor says that she didn’t initially set out to be a singer, and that she had a lot of insecurity regarding her voice to overcome. Strangely enough, the most captivating part of Joanne Shaw Taylor’s sound is her rasped, soulful, and absolutely effortless vocal delivery.
She sort of croons in a lower register, and it sounds as though it’s no more effort for Taylor than simply breathing. Maybe this is a major contributor to the natural sound of “The Dirty Truth”, but her stunning guitar work is a thing to behold as well, particularly when she takes the opportunity to cut loose.
01 – Mud, Honey
02 – The Dirty Truth
03 – Wicked Soul
04 – Fool In Love
05 – Wrecking Ball
06 – Tried, Tested & True
07 – Outlaw Angel
08 – Shiver & Sign
09 – Struck Down
10 – Feels Like Home
11 – Mud Honey (Live At Glasgow)
12 – Outlaw Angel (Live At Glasgow)
13 – Wrecking Ball (Live At Glasgow)
14 – Tried, Tested And True (Live At Glasgow)
15 – The Dirty Truth (Live At Glasgow)
Joanne Shaw Taylor (vocals, guitar)
Dave Smith (bass)
Steve Potts (drums)
Rick Steff (keyboards)
BUY IT !