For a musician with twenty-six No. 1 albums on the Billboard Blues Chart, releasing a 20th edition of the record that started all could almost feel like just another premeditated step in this incredible journey. But for Joe Bonamassa, Blues Deluxe Vol.2 has all the raw hunger of a young guitarist with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Joe Bonamassa – Blues Deluxe Vol.2 (J&R Adventures)
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Monty Sewell
Stationed as an ode to the original compilation, Blues Deluxe, which was released in 2003 to a whirlwind of mainstream blues acclaim, steering Bonamassa onto the road he continues to flourish on today.
With ten tracks and two more decades of experience riding in the guitarist’s fingers, Blues Deluxe Vol.2 was hailed to be not as much a follow-up as a testament to the artist that took that initial awe and turned it into one of the most prolifically successful blues careers of our time.
For those classic blues lovers, the album swings into action with Bonamassa’s cover of Bobby “Blue” Bland track, Twenty-Four Hour Blues. From the get-go, the band is slick, with Bonamassa inhibiting an apparent, playful ease in both his voice and his playing. Any man who, without fail, dons a suit and sunglasses onstage emulates a certain seriousness.
But as we slide into Bobby Parkers It’s Hard But It’s Fair, the joy within his version of the composition jumps out at you, and we get a sort of ‘man behind the music’ feel within the liveliness of his take on the track itself.
The featured band (Reese Wynans on keys, Calvin Turner on bass, Lamar Carter on drums, Kirk Fletcher on guitar, and Smith on guitar) gives the whole album a soulfully live sound along with the production on Bonamassa’s vocals, which snaps you straight into whichever grand auditorium he is most likely to be playing in now.
Well, I Done Got Over It (originally performed by Guitar Slim) and I Want to Shout About It (originally performed by Ronnie Earle & The Broadcasters) are conquered without an inch of the originals’ class in quality lost.
Bonamassa has always been applauded for his outstanding guitar playing, but comparing his vocals from twenty years ago, the musician has found a more profound harmony within his voice. Bonamassa continuously states he doesn’t consider himself a ‘legit singer.’
Still, as he takes us through Pee Wee Crayton’s Win-O and into the original, Hope You Realize It (Goodbye Again) (co-written with Tom Hambridge), we get a distinct, vocal confidence that compares to his early years favorably.
The last leg of the album sees Lazy Poker Blues (originally performed by Fleetwood Mac), You Sure Drive a Hard Bargain (originally performed by Albert King) and The Truth Hurts Feat Kirk Fletcher and Josh Smith (originally performed by Kenny Neal) before another original, Is It Safe To Go Home, written by Josh Smith.
Triumphant in everything but his ability to slow down, Joe Bonamassa releases the perfect homage to a career far from its end but already outstanding in its accomplishments.