If you look up the word “prolific” in the dictionary, chances are you will find a photo of Joe Bonamassa. The man is just a machine. Time Clocks is solo studio album number 16.
Joe Bonamassa – Time Clocks (Provogue)
Release Date: 29 October 2021
Words: Robert Adams
Not counting the 16 live albums, four studio and one live album as part of Black Country Communion, three studio and one live album with Rock Candy Funk Party, three studio and one live album with Beth Hart, along with countless other special guest appearances. All of these, since the year 2000. Oh, I forgot to mention, Mr Bonamassa is only 44 at the time of writing this.
I’ll just get this out the way right at the start – Time Clocks is a fantastic album. I would go so far as to say that it is the most complete album of his career. From the stunning artwork by Hugh Syme and the wondrous production by long-time collaborator Kevin Shirley to a stupendous mix by the legendary Bob Clearmountain, Time Clocks is the real deal.
The album opens with a very brief blues instrumental Pilgrimage before segueing into Notches, and right from the get-go, we know we’re in for a treat. A didgeridoo opens proceedings before JoBo gives us a beautiful acoustic guitar run and rhythm section Steve Mackay on bass and the wonderful Anton Fig on drums set their stall out early with a driving backbeat.
The coup de gras on this album is the inclusion of Mahalia Barnes, Juaniti Tippins and Prinnie Stevens on stunning gospel choir style backing vocals. Their voices raise all the songs on Time Clocks to a different level.
You don’t need me to tell you what a stunning guitarist Bonamassa is, but Time Clocks showcases the most mature vocals of his career. Minds Eye is a case in point as to how far Bonamassa has come as a vocalist. It is a mournful ballad of love lost, and along with the exquisite backing of his trio of ladies, his vocals sound wonderful.
The title track and first single from the album was accompanied by a great cinematic video. One of the comments on Youtube about the track describes it perfectly for me. Therefore I’m blatantly stealing Daniel Johanssen’s comment – “the country bend riff then into a Bon Jovi ballad then into a Meat Loaf chorus, unexpected. I like it!!”
There is only one track that hasn’t grabbed me completely yet, and that is Questions And Answers. I’m not saying it’s a bad track. I’m just saying that it hasn’t blown me away like the rest of the album has.
If you think that the blues can’t be funky, give Hanging On A Loser a listen. From Anton Fig throwing in an off beat on his snare drum during the verses to the Motown-esque backing vocals, brilliant piano and Hammond work, this is the highlight of the album for yours truly.
Album closer Known Unknowns has a majestic long outro solo section that you just know will get longer when the track is played live.
The subject of time is touched on throughout this album, from the beautiful cover artwork to the lyrical themes throughout. It is all done with a delicate touch that can only come from experience.
A quick word about the production of the album. Kevin Shirley produced the album remotely from his studio in Sydney, while JoBo and his band were in the studio in New York. The results are just incredible. Add that to Bob Clearmountain’s Dolby Atmos mix, and you have one of the best sounding albums you’ll ever hear.
Time Clocks is an incredible piece of work and is more than worthy of your attention.
The Heart That Never Waits
Questions And Answers
The Loyal Kind
Hanging On A Loser