Smokin' hot Chicago blues
Joanna Connor's latest album takes its name from the street address of the hallowed blues venue, Teresa's Lounge. On the album (produced by Joe Bonamassa), Joanna aims to recapture the energy of stepping into the club where Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Howlin' Wolf graced the stage. While T's Lounge closed it's doors nearly 40 years ago, its legacy lives on in the heart of Chicago blues.
Joanna Connor is known for her frantic, machine gun slide playing and 'Destination' is a great reminder (or introduction) to her idiosyncratic style. With a swipe of the keyboard, Reese Wynans (read our interview with Reese HERE) and the band (including Josh Smith and Bonamassa) transport the listener into the basement club. It's smokin' hot and punchy in all the right places. Leading the way is Joanna's screaming guitar and raw blues vocals.
Although the album has a live feel and a retro sound, it's not a throwback: This is a strikingly contemporary album that is played by musicians who continue to live and breath the epochal importance of the blues.
Under Bonamassa's vision, the album reworks traditional blues tracks including 'For the Love of a Man' and 'Part-time Love'. Joanna's heartwrenching cover of Luther Allison's 'Bad News' (Joanna toured with him for 10 years) is an album highlight. This haunting track with a soul ripping primal scream is heavy, heartfelt blues at its best.
The band are top rate, with Wynan's key work being exemplary. He basically kills it on every track! Meanwhile, Joanna is given equal space to let rip on 'I Feel Good' and 'Trouble Trouble'. There's a synergy with the band that leaps forward from the record and it's a credit to Bonamassa for capturing that feeling on tape.
Bonamassa has clearly learnt a thing or two from Kevin Shirley and grown to be an excellent producer in his own right. In a similar vein to 'Black Coffee', the exceptional album he recorded and produced with Beth Hart, Bonamassa has an ear for creating the contemporary while offering a nod to the past.
'It's My Time', written by Josh Smith, channels Ry Cooder. It's a personal and sultry spoken word track and a fitting way to end the album. There's a proclamation in the song that goes 'I'm not doing this for fortune or fame, just want people to remember my name,'; after a piece of work this committed, the name Joanna Connor should on the lips of every blues fan.
Joanna Connor’s new album “4801 South Indiana Avenue” is released by KTBA Records on February 26th. Pre-order the album from www.jbonamassa.com/albums/2021/joannaconnor/4801