Joanne Shaw Taylor
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Joanne Shaw Taylor

Band Blues Rock


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"White Sugar Review"

4 Stars

From the first quavering bars of tremolo guitar and Ms taylor's understated smokey vocals on the swampy slow burn of "going home", it becomes blindingly obvious this girl has class. Romping on her fender esquire through a fine clutch of original songs, she convincingly handles everything from the soulful "Just another word" - a double-stopped workout recalling Soulmeister Bobby Womack- to the dirt-floor blues of "Time Has Come".
SRV references stalk the proceedings but Joanne's a tasteful player, and even her take on "Bones" - the old hoax stomp - is blissfully free of histrionics. It's a long time that someone kicked life into the tired UK blues scene, and this blonde from Birmingham could just be the person to do it. - Guitarist Magazine

"White Sugar"

It wasn't too long ago that you could count the number of women rock-guitar players on the fingers of one hand. After Bonnie Raitt, the Wilson sisters from Heart, and Melissa Ethbridge you had to really struggle in order to think of anyone else.

Well, as the man said, the times they are a changing, and now its becoming more and more common to see a woman fronting a band not only as the lead singer, but also as the lead guitar player. They're obviously still a minority, but at least now it's no longer considered an oddity or a novelty act when a woman fronts a band; the days of people saying, "Hey, she plays pretty good for a chick" are becoming a thing of the past.

I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but a good many of these guitar women are showing up fronting blues bands. A couple of years back the German independent blues label, Ruf Records released a two disc set called Blues Guitar Women. Canadian guitarist Sue Foley, who helped put together the compilation, said in her liner notes that she found it alarming that she was able to fill two CDs so easily, because it made her realize just how many women were out there playing the blues, and how many weren't getting the recognition they deserve.

Unfortunately, just like their male counterparts, a great many of these guitar players are pretty much indistinguishable from each other. It seems like women are just as inclined to fall into the loud, hard, and fast school of playing as men, forgetting that a little bit of diversity makes music a heck of lot more interesting. So when someone like Joanne Shaw Taylor shows up with a CD like her forthcoming White Sugar (January 1, '09 on Ruf Records) I pay attention. Not only has Joanne written all the tracks on the CD, she understands that music, especially the blues, sounds a whole lot better when you don't play the same thing over and over again.
White Sugar.jpg
As with so many blues guitar players since the 1960s, Taylor hails from Great Britain, and like those who came before her she looked to the United States for her inspiration. In her press materials she cited Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, and Albert Collins as the musicians who made her want to pick up a guitar and dedicate herself to playing the blues. Although she has also followed in their footsteps by fronting a trio, she sells herself short by saying she fronts a power trio. For while it's true her music has plenty of power, there's none of the 'let's make their ears bleed' mentality that I would normally associate with the term.

At sixteen, in 2002, she was touring Europe with former Eurythmics guitar player Dave Stewart's super group D.U.P., and maybe that experience played a role in developing her sensitivity to the potentials that exist in blues music. Whatever the reason White Sugar not only demonstrates that Taylor can play and sing, but understands music far better than a great many musicians with far more years under their belts. It's hard to put into words what it was about the music that gave me that impression, but listening to the disc, one of the first things I noticed was that each note played on her guitar was a distinct moment in time no matter how fast she was playing or what effects had been added. It was like every note she played or sang was the most important one in her life and she was investing all of herself into that moment.
However, it's her guitar playing where she really shines, for no matter whether she's playing Texas blues, playing hard, or playing soft she shows an affinity for the music and her instrument that belies her years. Any half way decent guitar player can bend notes or run leads, but what separates the gifted from the rest of the pack is the expression they are able to put into their music. The guitar should sound like its an extension of the player's singing voice, crying out those words that we can't articulate because we don't have a vocabulary extensive enough for that kind of passion.

When Taylor's guitar leads follow hard upon her lyrics it sounds like she's continuing the thought she began while singing. No matter how fast she's playing you can't help but hear how interconnected the music and the lyrics are. Her guitar leads add an extra layer of emotion to what was being expressed by her vocals. So, instead of sounding like an obvious lead break, one flows into the other seamlessly. One of the reasons Taylor is able to do that so well is she's as equally comfortable playing rhythm as she is cranking out the leads. This is really obvious on a song like "Heavy Heart" with its R&B groove that she plays with an almost elegant smoothness.

Joanne Shaw Taylor joins the ever growing number of young women who have picked up electric guitars and pursued the life of a blues guitar player. With White Sugar, her first solo release, Taylor shows that she has the promise to be a force to be reckoned with. While there are plenty of people who can sing, play guitar, and write songs, there are precious few who have the passion and soul that elevates their music beyond the ordinary: Joanne Shaw Taylor, is one of them. - Richard Marcus


White Sugar (Produced by Jim Gaines) Due for release Jan 2009.



For the last couple of years, Joanne Shaw Taylor has been busy redefining
the meaning of the cliche, plays like a girl..... how did you spend
your summer vacation when you were 17 years old? She spent hers touring Europe with the supergroup D.U.P. with fellow band members Dave Stewart (Eurythmics), Candy Dulpher (Prince), Mudbone Cooper (Parliment-Funkadelic) and Jimmy Cliff. If you can imagine the love child of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Dusty Springfield then you are beginning to get a feel for Joannes mixture of fiery guitar playing, sultry vocals and 100% pure soul. But unlike many other young phenoms, she has quickly developed a resumé to back up the hype. Born and raised amidst the coal mines of Britains Black Country; she picked up a guitar and got turned on to the blues as a very young teenager.

Dave Stewart first discovered Joanne when he saw her play
at the tender age of 16 and his reaction was as follows...I have played with all sorts of blues musicians all over the world such as R.L.Burnside and Jesse-Mae Hemphill. I heard something I thought I would never hear....a British white girl playing blues guitar so deep and passionately it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end!!! Not only was I in total shock but it took me a good few minutes to ask her how long she had been playing like that ? "A few years" she replied "how old are you now" I asked "sixteen she said. I woke up a few seconds later on the floor.

Jo has been touring the U.K. with her own band since she was 14,
headlining top clubs such as Ronnie Scotts and the Marquee; she has
also performed at several of the top European festivals, playing
alongside many of her heroes like B.B. King. It is a safe bet that Ms Taylor is the only teenage girl invited to sit in on one of Bill Wymans recording sessions.

Her own writing has led her to something beyond the blues... a soulful mix of roots and pop influences sung in a haunting smoky voice that never leaves you once you hear it. This goes much deeper than a loud guitar solo- this is the real deal.

Joanne debut album "white sugar" is due for release January 2009. Produced by Grammy award winning producer Jim Gaines (Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins).

“She plays with more attitude and flare than most.
Massive potential here. Inspiring.”
GUITARIST magazine

“ Catch her live if you can, then you can say: I was there at the beginning”
Blue Print Magazine

“Unlike many blues gigs, the audience consisted mainly of under twenty year olds, who had obviously found they could identify with a female performer from their own generation. If this trend continues blues will find a new audience, which with talents like Joanne Shaw Taylor it richly deserves”.
Blue Print Magazine

“Joanne IS the new face of the blues”
Blues Matters

“I have played with all sorts of blues musicians all over the world, I even made a film "Deep Blues" where I went to Mississippi and recorded some legendary players such as R.L Burnside and Jesse -Mae Hemphill. Last year I heard something I thought I would never hear....a British White Girl playing blues guitar so deep and passionately it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end!!!
Dave Stewart (Eurythmics)

“The effect is simply electrifying. No further proof is required; this lady has the blues in her blood. Joanne’s guitar playing has acquired the emotional authority to convey her own vision of where the blues can go”.
Birmingham Post

A soulful mix of roots and pop influences sung in a haunting smoky voice that never leaves you once you hear it.
Kevin Bowe
(Grammy award winning songwriter)