Joanne Shaw Taylor

Saturday • The Phoenix

A cursory spin of Joanne Shaw Taylor’s debut album, 2009’s White Sugar, reveals an artist with a soulful understanding of the Blues and possessed of a husky vocal instrument that perfectly exemplifies the genre’s weary joy and therapeutic exuberance.

Even more astonishing is Taylor’s guitar mastery, a shuffling fuzz pedal attack that creeps through a song like an apex predator, just waiting for the opportune moment to spring and seize its prey by its proverbial neck. Taylor’s gifts are made all the more impressive with the realization that she was a mere 23 when she made White Sugar and had already been gigging for seven years when it was released. A talent like Taylor’s wouldn’t have stayed hidden for long, but it was the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart who discovered the Birmingham, England, native and tapped the 16-year-old for his supergroup D.U.P.’s 2002 tour of Europe.

Clearly an old soul contained in a young body, Taylor translated her early love of Albert Collins, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix into a blisteringly unique style all her own. After seven years of road apprenticeship, she signed with Ruf Records and released White Sugar, followed by 2010’s exponentially better Diamonds in the Dirt. Both albums cracked the Top 10 of Billboard’s Blues Albums chart. Taylor’s most recent album, last fall’s The Dirty Truth, lives up its title as she howls with hellhound intensity and grinds out gritty licks with a heat to rival the flames coming off Hendrix’s Strat at Woodstock.

Currently dividing her time between Detroit and Birmingham, Joanne Shaw Taylor is no reverent Blues acolyte praying at a crossroads altar to Robert Johnson. She knows her history but she has just as much respect for Paul Kossoff, Gary Moore and all the players who hammered the Blues into fascinating new shapes in the Rock era and is vitally interested in continuing to advance the Blues flag up the hill of the 21st century.

Taylor’s Cincinnati stop is part of the Winter Blues Fest at downtown’s The Phoenix. Visit cincyblues.org for full fest details.


JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR plays at The Phoenix Saturday, Feb. 7. Find tickets/more info here .

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