Review: Joe Bonamassa – A New Day Now
Provogue Records (August 7th 2020)
Reviewer: Peter Scallan
While I can’t claim to be a lifetime Bonamassa fan, I have been a big fan since ‘Black Rock‘ came out in 2010. The blues rock groove and his soulful voice had me hooked as soon I heard him on this album. While I have delved into the back catalogue, my least favourite album has always been ‘A New Day Yesterday‘. Therefore, while the Bonamassa purists who have been around since the first album may think this redone version is blasphemy, I was quite looking forward to it. Equally I am sure those purists of the early albums probably don’t like the latter day more refined blues rock Joe trades in now.
First up is ‘Cradle Rock‘ and from the get-go of the instrumental opening, you can tell the difference. Remixed and remastered by Kevin Shirley, the guitar sound is powerful and crisp and the drums cut through compared to the muddy mix of the original with a snappy snare and crisp cymbals. And once JB starts singing, the difference is humungous compared with that of the original. The first time I heard this album, I had to check the liner notes to make sure it was Bonamassa singing. The difference and feel continues into the more traditional blues number of Free’s ‘Walk in my Shadow‘.
Next is title track ‘A New Day Yesterday‘, which is another cover version from Jethro Tull. This is a fine example of just how much JB’s vocals have changed over the years. This is a slow burning number but the original vocal does the song absolutely no justice at all. ‘I Know Where I Belong‘ opens with a funky guitar riff reminiscent of Keith Richards and bounces along nicely. This is followed by the more radio-friendly number called ‘Miss You, Hate You‘ and the redone version makes it even more radio-friendly with the more refined mixed and vocal. If I recall correctly, on the original there was what even sounded like some guitar feedback. And so the improvement continues through ‘Nuthin’ I Wouldn’t Do (For A Woman Like You)‘ which is an Al Kooper number and features Rick Derringer on vocals and guitar.
‘Colour and Shape‘ is next up and is a more laid back number which is followed by the funky bass opening of ‘Headaches and Heartaches‘ which is a powerful bluesy funked up song. There then follows a slice classic blues in ‘Trouble Waiting‘ which is JB original. Another slow burning blueser is up next in the form of ‘If Heartaches Were Nickels‘ which is a Kenny Neal cover. This song originally featured the mighty Leslie West on vocals and lead guitar and Greg Allman on vocals and organ. However, JB sings the lead vocal in its entirety and the song loses a little of its original charm.
The penultimate track on the original album is next, called ‘Current Situation‘ and is a JB original. The last track on the original album was ‘Don’t Burn Down That Bridge‘. The opening of the song has a strange Deep Purplesque feel to it, even though it is a BB King cover. This re-released version has three extra tracks on it. These songs produced and written with Steven Van Zandt, the first of which is ‘Hey Moma‘ and is very similar to the material on the Din of Ecstasy album from fellow blueser Chris Whitley. Judging by the vocal on it, there has been no re-vocal of this song or maybe the song just demanded a different vocal from JB. The next additional track is ‘I Want You‘ and has a strange almost new wave rock feel and the vocal is…, well, it is bloody awful! The final song of the re-release is ‘Line of Denial‘. This is based on a staccato guitar riff and is a pretty good song but again the vocals let it down.
So, is it another JB let’s fill the gap album or a worthwhile addition to your JB collection? For me, it is as I prefer it to the original and you get the three bonus tracks, even though only one of them is worth the investment. However, if you are a recent Bonamassa fan and haven’t got the original, I think this album will be more in keeping with your expectations. Having said that, I am sure it has appeal for Bonamassa fans old, new and even former!