12 Songs, 1 Hour 4 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

On her third album, Joanne Shaw Taylor clinches her reputation as a blues guitarist and singer of rare ability. Almost Always Never has the sound and feel of an after-midnight roadhouse jam; its tracks drip with heartache, yearning, and menace. Still in her 20s, Shaw brings a palpable authority to her self-penned tales of cracked love affairs and frustrated hopes. Her rough yet supple vocals complement her brawny, distortion-tinged fretwork. “Soul Station” (a declaration of purpose set to a voodoo beat), “Tied & Bound” (a crunchy rocker in the classic British bar-band mode), and “You Should Stay, I Should Go” (a surprisingly pop-slanted number worthy of Bonnie Raitt) testify to the album’s sonic range. Softer moments like the acoustic showcase “Army of One” and the bittersweet ballad “Lose Myself to Loving You” let Shaw try a little tenderness with winning results. Especially potent is her slow-burning cover of Frankie Miller’s tormented “Jealousy.” While steeped in blues essentials, Almost Always Never shows Shaw’s appeal beyond the genre’s confines with a mix of raw emotion and impeccable musical finesse.

EDITORS’ NOTES

On her third album, Joanne Shaw Taylor clinches her reputation as a blues guitarist and singer of rare ability. Almost Always Never has the sound and feel of an after-midnight roadhouse jam; its tracks drip with heartache, yearning, and menace. Still in her 20s, Shaw brings a palpable authority to her self-penned tales of cracked love affairs and frustrated hopes. Her rough yet supple vocals complement her brawny, distortion-tinged fretwork. “Soul Station” (a declaration of purpose set to a voodoo beat), “Tied & Bound” (a crunchy rocker in the classic British bar-band mode), and “You Should Stay, I Should Go” (a surprisingly pop-slanted number worthy of Bonnie Raitt) testify to the album’s sonic range. Softer moments like the acoustic showcase “Army of One” and the bittersweet ballad “Lose Myself to Loving You” let Shaw try a little tenderness with winning results. Especially potent is her slow-burning cover of Frankie Miller’s tormented “Jealousy.” While steeped in blues essentials, Almost Always Never shows Shaw’s appeal beyond the genre’s confines with a mix of raw emotion and impeccable musical finesse.

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