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Joanne Shaw Taylor: Diamonds in the Dirt

Audio Samples

>Can't Keep Living Like This
>Dead And Gone
>Same As It Never Was
>Jump That Train
>Who Do You Love?
>Diamonds In The Dirt
>Let It Burn
>World On Fire
>Lord Have Mercy
>World And It's Way, The

Track List

>Can't Keep Living Like This
>Dead And Gone
>Same As It Never Was
>Jump That Train
>Who Do You Love?
>Diamonds In The Dirt
>Let It Burn
>World On Fire
>Lord Have Mercy
>World And It's Way, The

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

Diamonds in the Dirt is the exciting new album by British artist Joanne Shaw Taylor, a rising star on the international blues scene. The 18 months since the release of her debut White Sugar have seen that recording receive a nomination as Best New Artist Debut at the 2010 Blues Music Awards and become the most successful debut ever on Ruf Records. Taylor's latest release reunites her with Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines (Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan) and the same team of studio pros that made White Sugar such an infectious pleasure.

Recorded at Gaines' Bessie Blue Studios in rural Tennessee, Diamonds in the Dirt offers 10 stellar, all-original cuts. It begins with the unexpected sound of a lone acoustic guitar but soon shifts into overdrive, becoming a dizzying display of frenetic, full-throttle electric power. Taylor recently moved to the U.S. and attributes the heavy sound of Diamonds in the Dirt to her new musical environment - a place immortalized in song as 'Detroit Rock City.' "There's a huge amount of incredible bands and musicians in Detroit," says Taylor of her current home base. "I'm sure it's given me new inspiration and been part of the reason for the slightly heavier sound on this album."

Songs like "Can't Keep Living Like This" and "Have Mercy" showcase a remarkable range of dynamics. Taylor and her tight, two-piece rhythm section build gradually upon solid, riff-driven grooves. When the moment comes, the guitarist launches into one of her incendiary solos. Often, as on "Have Mercy," Taylor, drummer Steve Potts and bassist Dave Smith explode together in a final, breathtaking climax.

It's not all fireworks, though. "Diamonds in the Dirt," a song about the process of emotional recovery, shows off the softer, more melodic qualities in Taylor's singing and playing, as well as her willingness to reveal and heal. "Writing, for me, is very personal," she says. "All the songs on this album are autobiographical. It's basically a chance to put thoughts and fears to paper."

As tempting as it was to try and repeat the success of White Sugar, so much has changed in Taylor's life since then that she never even considered it. Thus, Diamonds in the Dirt is a fitting step forward. "I wanted an album that showed my growth as a musician and person. I think Diamonds in the Dirt is a good snapshot of where I am right now as an artist and a good memoir of the past two years."

""Diamonds in the Dirt is the exciting new album by British artist Joanne Shaw Taylor, a rising star on the international blues scene. The 18 months since the release of her debut White Sugar have seen that recording receive a nomination as Best New Artist Debut at the 2010 Blues Music Awards and become the most successful debut ever on Ruf Records. Taylor's latest release reunites her with Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines (Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan) and the same team of studio pros that made White Sugar such an infectious pleasure.

Recorded at Gaines' Bessie Blue Studios in rural Tennessee, Diamonds in the Dirt offers 10 stellar, all-original cuts. It begins with the unexpected sound of a lone acoustic guitar but soon shifts into overdrive, becoming a dizzying display of frenetic, full-throttle electric power. Taylor recently moved to the U.S. and attributes the heavy sound of Diamonds in the Dirt to her new musical environment - a place immortalized in song as 'Detroit Rock City.' "There's a huge amount of incredible bands and musicians in Detroit," says Taylor of her current home base. "I'm sure it's given me new inspiration and been part of the reason for the slightly heavier sound on this album."

Songs like "Can't Keep Living Like This" and "Have Mercy" showcase a remarkable range of dynamics. Taylor and her tight, two-piece rhythm section build gradually upon solid, riff-driven grooves. When the moment comes, the guitarist launches into one of her incendiary solos. Often, as on "Have Mercy," Taylor, drummer Steve Potts and bassist Dave Smith explode together in a final, breathtaking climax.

It's not all fireworks, though. "Diamonds in the Dirt," a song about the process of emotional recovery, shows off the softer, more melodic qualities in Taylor's singing and playing, as well as her willingness to reveal and heal. "Writing, for me, is very personal," she says. "All the songs on this album are autobiographical. It's basically a chance to put thoughts and fears to paper."

As tempting as it was to try and repeat the success of White Sugar, so much has changed in Taylor's life since then that she never even considered it. Thus, Diamonds in the Dirt is a fitting step forward. "I wanted an album that showed my growth as a musician and person. I think Diamonds in the Dirt is a good snapshot of where I am right now as an artist and a good memoir of the past two years.""" -laspikedelycmusic.bloguez.com

"British-born Joanne Shaw Taylor combined intense guitar chops and a voice aged beyond her youth to impress critics and win fans on both sides of the Atlantic on her 2009 debut White Sugar and she now returns with the sophomore effort Diamonds In The Dirt.

Sophomore records are notoriously difficult for artists extending all the way back to the beginning of recorded music. We've all heard the cliché about a lifetime to write the first record and 18 months to write its successor. Some artists have tripped up overthinking things and trying to evolve too much too soon while others stayed too close to the formula of their first album. If Taylor has fallen into any kind of sophomore slump, hers would be the case of the latter as she is once again teamed with producer Jim Gaines as well as bassist Dave Smith and drummer Steve Potts.

There is a fine line between playing to one's own strengths and repeating oneself but what blunts periodically dampens the impact of Diamonds isn't any similarities it shares with its predecessor but that it so often shares these similarities across these 10 songs. As with many other artists who fashion sounds from limited palettes, this one is appealing and often adorns some very good songs but fatigue sets in over the 45 minutes and that is unfortunate because there is real spark and life at work here.

Taylor has a fantastic, earthy voice and a slashing, smoldering guitar attack and the results can be thrilling and often are. "Jump That Train" is an example where these elements come together well. Her rhythm guitar chugs beneath her smoky voice before yielding to a bridge to the first of two guitar solos. The first solo leaves some blood and mess while the second is more precise. The title track stands out by being one of the more different sounding songs on the record. It's not quite a ballad but rocks less without sacrificing intensity, relying more on vocals than fretwork. On "Lord Have Mercy," it's the lead guitar that powers the song.

Take any three or four songs and you hear she has the goods. It's when you get to that fifth or sixth song what was powerful becomes routine or at least expected. Diamonds In The Dirt is a very good, enjoyable, solid record. I choose to believe she has more to offer as a player than a guitar attack that often echoes the ghost of the great Stevie Ray Vaughan and his respective influences. Taylor is a force to be reckoned with as a singer and player. The progression from White Sugar to Diamonds isn't dramatic but a foundation has been built. She's two solid albums in to a career filled with potential to blossom into something truly special." -BlogCritics

Album Reviews:

Living Blues (p.60) - "Taylor plays to her strengths with achingly authentic hard-luck lyrics, gunslinger guitar posturing, urgent desire in her smoky vocal rasp, and an incessant groove."

Album Notes

Personnel: Joanne Shaw Taylor (vocals, guitar, guitars); Rick Steff (keyboards); Steve Potts , Steve Potts (drums).

Audio Mixer: Jim Gaines.

Recording information: Bessie Blue Studios, Stantonville, TN.

Photographer: Liz "Cupcake" Mackinder.

British blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor comes off as a talented, if unfinished, young blues artist on her second album, Diamonds in the Dirt. Leading a quartet also including Steve Potts (drums), Dave Smith (bass), and Rick Steff (keyboards), Taylor turns in a set of original songs that serve as platforms for her electric lead work. The CD booklet prints all her lyrics, which she sings in a smoky, throaty alto, and the words turn out to be a succession of clichés, with a heavy emphasis on fire imagery, as titles like "Let It Burn" and "World on Fire" suggest. Bad behavior, bad luck, and bad love are alluded to, all of which are more than enough to justify the emotion Taylor expresses in her singing and the fervor with which she plays the guitar. Still, those leads often seem to have little to do with the songs from which they spring, and they tend to be more displays of technical virtuosity than expressions of feeling. Producer Jim Gaines may realize that the playing is more flash than substance, since he often chooses to fade out songs on the lead playing, an otherwise odd decision. Taylor's limitations are really just those of youth, so maybe it is better to focus on her strengths as a player, which come across as soon as she puts her fingers on her instrument. (Her voice has real possibilities, too, once she really learns how to use it.) ~ William Ruhlmann



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