Recording Into the Blues, writes Joan Armatrading on the back sleeve of her first-ever blues album, "has given me so much pleasure," and that pleasure is evident in the grooves.
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Into the Blues based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
As a long standing Joan Armatrading fan, I've diligently bought every album, hoping, but slightly disappointed. I haven't been blown away since the early days of To The Limit or 'Joan Armatrading'. THIS IS THE ONE! Edgy, raw, impassioned, this is exactly where I think Joan should be. It's rugged blues but it's so much more aswell. She's in the best voice she's been and that's her greatest strength. All self penned songs, it sounds like her most honest - 'Mama Papa' is her 'Nutbush City Limits' (a sparse Ben Harper meets Bobbie Gentry classic). It's also very uplifting despite a sprinkling of her yearning ballads, protest songs - she's obviously in a good place. This is RL Burnside blues not Robert Cray - lowdown-minimum polish. I've always thought Joan was one of the most under-rated British talents - this is her swansong and she deserves huge success from it. If you want to hear Joan Armatrading without the lush 80's sheen that dogged some of her more recent output, this will repay your faith 10 times over. I love it, loveit, love it!!
Although her official website describes Joan Armatrading's new CD, INTO THE BLUES, as being "blues influenced" rather than a straightforward blues album, the songs on it achieve exactly what the best of blues music does. They take us deep inside the raw agonies and ecstasies of life, love, and the struggle to live at peace with ourselves and the world. That drama is one Armatrading has set to superb guitar-playing that rivals (with all due respect) that of such icons as BB King, Eric Clapton, Prince, and Bruce Springsteen. Add to her artistry a voice which can boom like a Chicago baritone or caress like the sweetest ingénue and it becomes easy to see why this CD shot straight to number one on Billboard Magazine's blues chart.
On the title track of this phenomenal set, Armatrading proclaims, "My baby don't like rock and roll/ Not hip hop or pop/ My baby's just into the blues," then proceeds to deftly demonstrate why. We can debate whether the "baby" of which she's singing is a favorite lover or her guitar. But one thing not in question is the serious skill with which Armatrading explores various forms of the blues--rock, gospel, ballad--throughout the CD's 13 dynamic cuts.
The trademark finesse with which she's known to dissect the most intimate of relationships are in full play on the first two songs, "A Woman in Love" and "Play the Blues." She is particularly heart-wrenching on the mournfully plaintive "Empty Highway," which broods and croons and bleeds with the best of any blues ballad on record. "Baby Blue Eyes" is a blue-grass tinged number that evokes the soulful country traditions of an Allison Krauss or the Dixie Chicks. She moves beyond romantic introspection for some powerful social and spiritual commentary on both "Secular Songs" and the explosive eight-minute-long closer "Something's Gotta Blow." In the biographical "Mama Papa," fans get a rare treat as Armatrading pays tribute to her birth island of St. Kitts and the industrious parents who taught her to: "Play hard/ Fight fair/ Live life/ And love the Lord."
From the very beginning of Joan Armatrading's amazing career, starting with the 1972 release of WHATEVER'S FOR US, the rhythms and colors of the blues and jazz have helped define the brilliant depths and substance of her work. Also from the very beginning, Armatrading has demonstrated an uncanny ability to employ various musical trends and genres to amplify the uniqueness of her own creative voice. Those two traits serve her genius exceedingly well on INTO THE BLUES, a CD very much on its way to becoming a celebrated classic.
author of "ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love"
and "The American Poet Who Went Home Again"