Living Blues - p.60
"Taylor plays to her strengths with achingly authentic hard-luck lyrics, gunslinger guitar posturing, urgent desire in her smoky vocal rasp, and an incessant groove."
Personnel: Joanne Shaw Taylor (vocals, guitar, guitars); Rick Steff (keyboards); Steve Potts , Steve Potts (drums).
Audio Mixer: Jim Gaines.
Recording information: Bessie Blue Studios, Stantonville, TN.
Photographer: Liz "Cupcake" Mackinder.
British blues guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor comes off as a talented, if unfinished, young blues artist on her second album, Diamonds in the Dirt. Leading a quartet also including Steve Potts (drums), Dave Smith (bass), and Rick Steff (keyboards), Taylor turns in a set of original songs that serve as platforms for her electric lead work. The CD booklet prints all her lyrics, which she sings in a smoky, throaty alto, and the words turn out to be a succession of clich‚s, with a heavy emphasis on fire imagery, as titles like "Let It Burn" and "World on Fire" suggest. Bad behavior, bad luck, and bad love are alluded to, all of which are more than enough to justify the emotion Taylor expresses in her singing and the fervor with which she plays the guitar. Still, those leads often seem to have little to do with the songs from which they spring, and they tend to be more displays of technical virtuosity than expressions of feeling. Producer Jim Gaines may realize that the playing is more flash than substance, since he often chooses to fade out songs on the lead playing, an otherwise odd decision. Taylor's limitations are really just those of youth, so maybe it is better to focus on her strengths as a player, which come across as soon as she puts her fingers on her instrument. (Her voice has real possibilities, too, once she really learns how to use it.) ~ William Ruhlmann