The wait is over; Joe Bonamassa's latest solo studio album, 'Time Clocks' is here! A testament to his musical credentials and a toast to his longtime fans—‘Time Clocks' has a raw and vital flavour, combined with a resolute skill that can only be gained through years of perseverance and an unyielding dedication to his craft. The blues-rock titan chats with Guitar Interactive Magazine's Jonathan Graham to discuss the brand-new record in this issue's cover feature. As usual, Joe has some fantastic stories of rare guitar finds, recording and performing all over the world, and so much more.
For so many artists two decades or more in the game, the challenges of staying motivated, fresh, and vital seem like a near impossibility in comparison with their earlier outings. For the few who have been able to do it—through reinvention or sheer commitment to their craft—they easily stand out from the crowd. Joe Bonamassa is one of those artists, and with his latest release (his 15th solo studio album), 'Time Clocks,' this could very well be the two-time Grammy-nominated guitarist at his finest.
Recorded in New York City, the album rediscovers Bonamassa at a newfound peak with heartfelt songwriting and an unparalleled Blues Rock prowess. 'Time Clocks' follows Joe's constant evolution as he continues to forge ahead, bending genres, breaking down walls and defying the odds of the music industry. He's known as "the man in the suit", loved by many as the ultimate guitar hero, cited by critics as "the world's biggest blues guitarist" (Guitar World), and now the music mastermind has found yet another layer of immense new artistry to share with his fans. As one of today's most in-demand touring acts, the road has been long and winding, but the rough journey has moulded his craft into gold.
Bonamassa hit the studio with longtime collaborators Kevin Shirley as producer and manager/business partner Roy Weisman as executive producer for the album. The album was recorded in New York City at Germano Studios/The Hit Factory and mixed by Bob Clearmountain (Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Toto, Bon Jovi). The band members include Steve Mackey (bass), Lachy Doley (piano), Bunna Lawrie (didgeridoo), Bobby Summerfield (percussion), and Late Night with David Letterman's Anton Fig (drums and percussion), along with Mahalia Barnes, Juanita Tippins, and Prinnie Stevens on backing vocals. The fantastic artwork on the album was created by famous graphic artist Hugh Syme (Rush, Aerosmith, Whitesnake).
"What started out with the intentions of being a trio record turned into probably my most adventurous and involved record to date," explains Bonamassa. His longtime producer Kevin Shirley adds, "I think Joe Bonamassa has made an album that is truly transitional. From a blues musician to a superstar artist, and I'm so thrilled to be along for the ride." Joe and Kevin brought on the legendary Bob Clearmountain to mix the epic tracks, and Bob declares that "This is one of the best albums I've mixed in years. Joe is not only one of the finest blues & rock guitarists of our time, he's also a brilliant songwriter, which is impressively apparent on this record."
Earlier in 2021, Bonamassa dropped hints of a new album with his reeling anthem "Notches", followed up by the blues-heavy single "The Heart That Never Waits." Both instant classics, with the latter a take a tale of heartbreak that will no doubt be an undeniable showstopper in a live setting. These tracks, along with the rest of the album, are a collection of stories that shed new light on Joe's life as a journeyman, constantly creating and always on the run. And not to mention, a perfect example of how Joe's voice has only gotten better with time—a rarity for an artist with such longevity in their career. These songs
Looking back on recording during COVID-19 and the original intention behind the album, Bonamassa reflects, "Twenty years ago, I recorded a record of covers that eventually was called 'Blues Deluxe.' It was recorded at Bobby Nathan's studio in Manhattan. It captured an energy and purpose that always stuck with me as an artist. I lived in New York City at the time, and times were pretty tough. My weekly routine was a combination of hustling sessions, gigs, and opportunities that seemed few and far between. I was hungry. Literally and figuratively. The music business is tough, very tough. Especially back in those days when major labels pulled all the strings and, in my case, all the punches. I subsisted on a basic diet of peanut butter and jelly and ramen noodles purchased at the bodega on the corner of 83rd and Columbus Avenue.
Cut to 2019, and I find myself back in New York and inspired by the city again. My living conditions had changed dramatically in the subsequent 20 years, but the energy that makes New York City great still remained.
In February 2021, we found ourselves at Germano Studios, cutting music as a trio (but not trio music) and having to invent ways of making records when your lifelong producer is stuck in Australia due to travel restrictions. Kevin Shirley came up with a way of linking continents and consoles to where we had literally zero latency. Add Steve Mackey and Anton Fig to the mix, a few masks and curse words, and we have the 'New York Record' aka 'Time Clocks'."
Now, with even bolder energy than ever before, Bonamassa holds the power of controlling both his artistry and his business in both hands. With 24 #1 albums, yearly sold-out tours worldwide and custom annual cruises, he's a hard act to beat. Joe knows his worth, and albeit humble, he plans to continue to beat the odds and exceed the expectations of naysayers. 'Time Clocks' will also be Bonamassa's first album mixed to utilize spatial audio with Dolby Atmos and available for fans on Apple Music. Bob Clearmountain adds, "the Atmos version is simply breathtaking."
Joe Bonamassa's 'Time Clocks' is out now via Provogue/Mascot Label Group.
Joe Bonamassa — 'Time Clocks' Tracklist:
In releasing new music that's destined for the loudspeakers, Joe is elated to get back to the stage. Recently completing a sold-out tour in the US, he'll return to tour the UK for the first time in three years, when he performs five concerts in April and May 2022, including two nights at London's legendary Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 5 May and Friday 6 May. Joe will also perform concerts at Glasgow, The Armadillo on Wednesday, 20 April, Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on Friday, 22 April, and Brighton Centre on Saturday, 23 April.
For tickets and full tour dates, visit https://jbonamassa.com/tour-dates/
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