Mascot Label Group – Provogue, 23 ottobre 2020
Royal Tea is the new album of Joe Bonamassa. In this work the American guitarist keeps the steady course showing once again what he said with Blues of desperation: he is not just a titan of the six-string, but an artist who has smoothed any roughness changing his works in a complete example of music art.
Royal Tea makes live together multiple facets of British rock blues and just for this reason it would be an incredible album to probe. I think is extremely interesting the work made by an artist who can makes cohabit different music realities inside the tracks of the album, building it like a coherent journey through the blues sound; in many ways, whoever had tried to do something like that today would have produced a jumble of sound without rhythm. Bonamassa instead makes unpublished tracks.
The Overture “When One Door Opens”, is a power blues full of guitarist’s overdrive that strengthen definitely what we have to expect from the album: it make the things clear and advise us to prick up your ears and make attention to what will come after.
In Royal Tea song, the sound is changed, it is evolving while Joe uses the typical structure of the blues of the call and response between his solo voice and the choir in a music system of full breath where the organ of Reese Wynans, a permanent member of the band, is well canalized in the sound and it give depth to the track.
The turnarounds of sound which quote without getting dirt of repurposing Royal Tea, they give to us antipodes songs like “I Didn’t She Would Do It” and “High Class Girls”: the first one is a power blues with metal influences, mostly in the sound of some solos, a really good mix effected by the Whitesnake also recalled in this album by the collaboration with their guitarist Bernie Marsden. The second one has a rhythm that is intensely reminiscent of Booker T. & The MG’S “Green Onions” and even more the original re-propositions of that sound of English pubs while the blues colonized London. Here, Joe lets himself go and a bit of old blues flows from his guitar, still sumptuous and supported by the bass lines.
Listening Royal Tea was like dived in strange atmosphere, of course strange, but extremely attractive. A journey in the music tradition of British rock and even in the life and in the experience of Joe Bonamassa; there is an epitome in “A Conversation With Alice” where the guitarist wink to a English literary topos like Alice in Wonderland to open a glimmer of light in his own life. Alice, indeed, is the fantasy name that the bluesman gives to his therapist a person with whom he has opened to know himself better and keep calm some blue devils:
I came to the conclusion that I was unrepairable and that the crazy in me makes me good at my job. I like being good at my job.
Said the bluesman with irony.
Going on in the sonic exploration of the world, which was built for us, we can find “Lonely Boy” which looks a lot like a rhythmic mid-fifties early sixties blues. Wynans’s horns and boogie woogie piano drag us to an old and smoky “Jive and Swing” venue while Joe’s guitar delights us making this song one of the most beautiful and fun of the entire album. “Why Does It Takes So Long To Say Goodbye” is a great ballad, soft and slow where the guitar is the protagonist but, with a peculiar sound, it becomes romantically poignant in the solos, and “Beyond The Silence”, absolutely my favorite, which only for the record is good to designate as the most America of the tracks for atmosphere and sound. Probably the best song of the album: Wyanan at the piano and the extraordinary proof of Joe Bonamassa at the voice, give to us an Atmosphere like Flannery O’Connor of poignant impending catastrophe, simply fantastic.
At the end of the journey, in the end of the album, we can find “Savannah” with a sound that would destroying all the sound coherence of the album and instead the result is a supporting framework. It is a roots ballad with gospel influences that seem to want to keep us still in that world and incidentally show us what John Mayer could have been if he had preferred music to pop sequins and the regret for Katy Perry lost love.