“It’s a little bit different,” says Joanne Shaw Taylor of her fifth studio album in a recent interview and she sure isn’t wrong either. Wild is a ride filled with pure emotion that’s been sprinkled with a touch of spice and seasoned with more than a dab of zest.
From the opening Dyin’ To Know, there is an edgy rawness to what Shaw Taylor has produced along with Kevin Shirley that drags you to the front of the seat and barely gives you time to sit back. The addition of Rob McNelly’s understated guitar contribution and Michael Rhodes’ subtle bass lines all help add a measure of depth to offset what, on the face of it, could be ‘just another blues album’, with No Reason To Stay – the debut single – exemplifying the fact that here is an artist who can take the straightforward and make it remarkable.
Wild Is the Wind summons up Etta James in its resonance and maturity, whereas Get You Back is all out angst filled bravado which further underscores that there’s a multi-faceted quality at work that catches you refreshingly unawares.
Channelling her emotions from breaking up a long standing relationship throughout, Shaw Taylor rips it up superbly on Wanna Be My Lover – the keys of Steve Nathan and the drums of Greg Morrow respectively sitting beneath and above a pulsating riff that makes the toes tap spontaneously – so that, again, sensitivity glistens like a freshly cut filet mignon. To continue the food analogy, I’m In Chains is very definitely a fresh Vindaloo such is its tangy, long lasting heat, with the guitar being used like a Kenwood kitchen knife to slice up more than a few unseen inner demons.
Yet despite the undoubted quality of the musicianship, it is the worth of Shaw Taylor’s vocals that are most notably improved here, along with the class of her lyrics. That’s not to say either have ever been weak or inconsistent, but I Wish I Could Wish You Back is quite simply poetry, executed with a rich intensity that’s almost tangible.
As for the fun of My Heart’s Got a Mind of Its Own, its syncopated old school rhythm punctuated with some terrific horns, it’s a piece that drives a kick to the gut that’s a joy to experience. This is then followed by a rocker of a song Phil Lynott would be proud of, Nothin’ To Lose, which is clearly Shaw Taylor made (sorry) for the live arena.
Closing on the George Gershwin monolith that is Summertime is a touch of genius that combines the classic beauty of Ella Fitzgerald’s style and the unrestrained energy of Janis Joplin in a single sitting, thereby leaving the listener longing for more.
“It’s a little bit different,” Joanne Shaw Taylor has said of her fifth album, Wild. Yes, it most certainly is. It is also more than just a little bit excellent.
01. Dyin’ To Know
02. Ready To Roll
03. Get You Back
04. No Reason To Stay
05. Wild Is The Wind
06. Wanna Be My Lover
07. I’M In Chains
08. I Wish I Could Wish You Back
9. My Heart’s Got A Mind Of It’s Own
10. Nothin’ To Lose