Joanne Shaw Taylor
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 it's 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.
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.
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.
Her voice sounds like it's wreathed in the smoke of a thousand whiskey soaked bar rooms. Unlike some who affect rawness in their singing voice, Taylor hasn't sacrificed expression for character, which prevents her from becoming monotonous. Whether she's playing a slow blues number like "Time Has Come" or a hard rocker like "Who Do You Want Me To Be" she makes her vocals as interesting as her guitar playing. While her range may not be the biggest, she makes full use of what she has, and understands that you don't have to be loud to express passion or power.
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.
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