Joanna Connor
Blind Pig 5047

Born in 1962, Joanna Connor has already made an incredible mark in her ascension in the blues world. Slidetime continues that progression with some sound slide work and the backing of a solid band, covering the emotional landscape that Bonnie Raitt has mined in recent years, reflecting on family, loves, and life.

While it may only be a coincidence, Connor does have moments where we feel like we could be back in time listening to the budding slide-guitar star who has hit mainstream acceptance. This set of original songs continues to show Connor's style has been influenced by the elder stateswoman of slide guitar.

There are other times when Connor reminds us that she is fairly recent to blues and that there is much to be said about growing into oneís blues shoes. "Nothiní But the Blues" is about being part of the new generation of blues players. Thatís fine, but the song lacks emotional impact, and musically itís derivative. Likewise, "Itís Not the Rock" pays homage to rock music, almost sounding like a í60s guitar band rather than blues with a self-conscious lyric, a malaise that also plagues "At the Club."

There is still much to appreciate. Connor is an excellent slide guitarist, and sheís accompanied by some sound players ó Anthony Palmer on guitar, Boyd Martin on drums and Vic Jackson on bass. Thereís nothing anemic about their sound when they start cooking.

"Pea Vine Blues" is a nice country style blues with brilliant slide work by Connor and some great fingerstyle work by Ron Johnson. "You Donít Love Me" and "Got to Have You" stand up with anything that Raitt would be proud to put on an album. Even "Slide on In" has a catchy riff reminiscent of Heart, with vocals that once again recall a younger Raitt.

Connor shines best when she works her slide with tasty tones on songs such as "My Man" or when she slows things down a bit and lets them simmer on the burner as in "Money Blues." Slidetime proves that Connor is a major contender on the contemporary blues scene. It is only a matter of time to see whether she will deliver the kind of album that many of the songs promise in this outing.

ó John Koetzner

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Boulder, CO, USA.