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Joe Bonamassa: Royal Tea

by Laura Lynch

Upon first sip Royal Tea might be a bit strong - a different flavor than one might expect from blues-man Joe Bonamassa. Over the years, Joe has released plenty of diverse sounding platters but his latest is heavier than his regular blend. The first track "When One Door Opens" sets the tone with an opulent orchestral string opening that is superseded by a bombardment of riffs and rhythms spiked with other sharp changes that give the song an almost progressive rock taste. "Lookout Man!" is another aggressive piece that burns.

"Lyrically, Royal Tea is a more biting record," Bonamassa explains, "and it's a more personal record. I went through a breakup last year. It was an amicable breakup, but it was still a breakup. And sometimes, you just have to look at yourself in the mirror. Like, it's not them, it's you." Joe brilliantly confronts this realization in the pensive "Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye". The pretty "Savannah" is another slow simmering brew that enhances this diverse collection.

Royal Tea was recorded at the legendary Abbey Road Studios in early 2020 and perhaps the hallowed hall had an impact on this 10-track collection. The album hints of hard rocking English influences such as Cream, Deep Purple, Pink Floyd, The Who and Zeppelin. At this point, Joe Bonammasa is a well-seasoned player who on this occasion spiced things up so that Royal Tea is savory yet sweet!


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