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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Joe Bonamassa

Time Clocks

Review by Gary Hill

I really have to preface this review with a little bit of a rant about music and fandom in general. For musicians, the path of plying their trade means that their art music evolve and grow. If you are just repeating yourself, you aren't really maturing as a person or an artist.

The problem is, for some fans, that puts the musician's interest in opposition to what the fans want. Certain music fans just want more of the same thing they've gotten from the artist before. Think about the debacle that ensued with Bob Dylan went from acoustic to electric arrangements. That's just one example. Joe Bonamassa seems to be in the middle of one such situation. Some of his hardcore old-school fans seem to lament the fact that he has moved more toward a rock music equation from a pure electric blues one. The thing is, it's his music. He gets to choose the direction he wants pursue. Of course, if it doesn't fit with their tastes as well as his older stuff does, it's their prerogative not to buy it. I think they do him a injustice by complaining about his growth as an artist, though. Be happy with the releases he did that fit with your tastes and be happy that he's evolving, even if it means he's growing beyond your particular interests.

So, with that out of the way, I think this is a great album. Bonamassa always delivers quality. Then again, I always heard the rock angle to his sound. I remember the first time I heard him thinking that he was creating a sound that was like a more traditional version of the bluesy stuff Led Zeppelin used to do. So, maybe I recognized this side of his sound before, while those other fans did not. However, you slice it, though, this is a strong release. I am not sure I like it as well as I did its predecessor Royal Tea, but I do like it a lot.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2022  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2022.

Track by Track Review
Pilgrimage
This is a short introductory piece. Ambient textures bring it in. Bluesy guitar soloing and some proggy elements fill out the arrangement.
Notches
There are some hints of world music at the start of this. The cut works out to some fierce blues rocking jamming from there. It drops to a bit more stripped back arrangement for the entrance of the vocals. This is a riff-driven tune that really rocks. I love the mellower, trippy, nearly proggy instrumental section mid-track. Vocals from there come over a more sedate motif, but the cut drives back out from there.
The Heart That Never Waits
Now here we get more of a traditional electric blues jam. This is so classy. The female backing vocals bring a lot of magic to this thing. The cut is a powerhouse song. It's definitely a highlight of the set.
Time Clocks
A dramatic introduction brings the title track into being. It drops back to a balladic approach for the entrance of the vocals. This works out to a powered up and inspired rocker with some real soulful texture built into later. This is evocative and powerful and even has some hints of country music on some of the mellower sections. This is a rather epic piece with a lot of twists and turns.
Questions And Answers
There is an almost classical vibe as this cut gets underway. It fires out with some smoking hot bluesy rocking music from there. This is so meaty and so cool. It's definitely one of the highlights here. It's packed with style and charm. There is an excursion into mellower Latin based music.
Mind’s Eye
A bluesy rock ballad mode is in the driver's seat here. I really dig this tune. This gets powered up further down the road, landing more along the lines of soulful, power ballad.
Curtain Call
There are some symphonic elements at play here. This has some of that bluesy rock elements at times, but this piece with some epic shifts and changes is largely prog rock based. It's also a powerhouse that's among the best music of the disc. The guitar soloing is on fire. Some backwards tracked guitar work near the end of the song lends a bit of psychedelia to it.
The Loyal Kind
More of a pure bluesy rock sound is at the heart of this. There is a real classic rock vibe, feeling a bit like something The Allman Brothers might have done. That said, this is unmistakable Bonamassa.
Hanging On A Loser
This cut has a lot more of that Allman Brothers thing at play along with a healthy helping of Little Feat. It's a killer classic rocking groove. It's also a lot of fun.
Known Unknowns
There is a lot of classic rock built into this tune. It has a real soulful angle to it. This has an extensive and quite tasty guitar solo section built into it.
 
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