You & Me

Joe Bonamassa

Premier, 2006

http://jbonamassa.com

REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/10/2006

Over the past month, I've think I learned a lot about white blues. Sure, that knowledge may only be based off of two albums, but combined with innumerable blues-based rock bands like Led Zeppelin or Aerosmith, one thing becomes abundantly clear -- chicks dig the riffs and solos.

Joe Bonamassa's disc You & Me is chock full of those ingredients, much like last year's Try! from the John Mayer Trio. In essence, this means the music was not challenging at all -- you just strap in and enjoy the ride. It helps that Bonamassa is a kick-ass guitar player who is able to imitate many blues legends, from Hendirx to Stevie Ray Vaughan (actually, that song, "Asking For You," captures an unlikely Ray Charles vibe, probably because of the strings.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Taking the blues these days and making it sound fresh and unique must be incredibly challenging. To these virgin ears, the genre doesn't seem to provide much room to go exploring without the artist losing sight of what they originally started out with. Listening to You & Me, I had that feeling of "I've heard this all before," though I'm willing to be turned on to any classic blues albums because I like the sound. Of course, there's nothing wrong with playing straight-ahead blues, and Bonamassa pulls it off well.

Bonamassa has the skills, both in terms of his instrument and his vocals, which sounds much more at home with the music than Mayer's did because of his rough and gritty style. Credit also goes to the rhythm section, particularly Jason Bonham, who admirably carries on his dad's tradition, and the interplay between Bonham and Bonamassa on tracks like "So Many Roads" sent shivers down my spine. Not only that, but we get to hear Jason's take on a song his father played on, a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Tea For One."

There are also a few stripped-down numbers that pay homage to where it all came from. "Tamp 'Em Up Solid" and "Palm Tree Helicopters And Gasoline" may be the two quietest and most laid-back numbers on You & Me, but they are among the most effective. "Django" begins with a very David Gilmour-like solo before retreating back to a more standard bluesy finish to the songs. The last two songs, "Your Funeral And My Trial" and "Torn Down," serve as an encapsulation of what this album is all about. Straight-up blues, no frills, played as loose as one can get.

This kind of record is so refreshing when played against the sterile, manufactured music of today.

Rating: A-

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