Driving Towards The Daylight

Joe Bonamassa

J&R Adventures, 2012


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Some things are constant in life: death, negative campaign ads, a Waffle House on every I-75 exit between Ohio and Florida, and a new Joe Bonamassa album every year.

Since 2002, the guy has released 13 albums, plus some work with a side project, plus a massive amount of live dates each year. How he finds the time and energy to record solo albums is a rarity in an age where artists go three and four years between releases. It’s a nice throwback to the ‘70s, when artists released an album every year (or sometimes two a year).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But all of that music means that everything Bonamassa records is released, without the benefit of taking time to sort the wheat from the chaff. This is why all of his records tend to be solid but not overwhelmingly amazing; perhaps taking the best from two of them and saving the filler for a rarities collection would be a smarter idea.

The closest Bonamassa has come to an outright classic is 2011’s Dust Bowl, where a fusion of styles, passion, and hot guitar solos resulted in one of the best albums of the year. This year’s follow-up Driving Towards The Daylight was bound to suffer in comparison, and does it ever.

Granted, the record sounds fine; Bonamassa is too good and talented to play bad music, and these 11 songs shine with talent and sweat. He is helped out by Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford on seven of the tracks and session drummer Anton Fig on every song. The covers are obscure and well chosen. Fans of blues rock and Bonamassa’s style in particular will likely find much here to appreciate.

But newcomers should start elsewhere. Little on Driving Towards The Daylight is truly memorable or worth returning to. Among the highlights are the soulful, restrained title track, the Howlin’ Wolf cover “Who’s Been Talking” (which must be where Led Zeppelin swiped the riff to “Whole Lotta Love”), and the fiery “A Place In My Heart.” Also recommended is the cover of Bill Withers’ “Lonely Town Lonely Street” and “Heavenly Soul,” a stomping original and the best track here.

The other six songs are just sort of there, solid blues rock but nothing more, faithfully continuing the sound and style of every Bonamassa album to this point. The formula is starting to wear a bit thin, even if it is sounds fine while it plays.

Rating: C

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