Posted On 26 Jun 2019
Meet the British guitar siren and incredible vocalist Joanne Shaw Taylor who has emerged as one of the fiercest women in blues rock with her new album, Reckless Heart!
It was released on May 17th via Silvertone/Sony. Featuring Joanne’s smoky rasp that rises from the legend of soul greats and world-class guitar playing, the album was recorded in Joanne’s home base and creative hub of Detroit –– with producer Al Sutton (Bob Seger, Greta Van Fleet, Shery Crow) and some of the best musicians in Detroit including jazz drummer Ron Otis, bassist James Simonson, and keyboardists Phil Hale and Chris Codish. Reckless Heart finds Joanne in glorious form and a mischievous mood, one minute bearing her claws with catty lyrics and the next deliriously in love.
Illuminating all the corners of her firecracker personality, this release was born out of a newfound openness and confidence that can only come with life experience. Both a make-up and a break-up album, it was written by Joanne during two phases of a relationship: the fall out and getting back together. Reckless Heart features 11 tracks that explore a variety of emotions ranging from blaring anger to flirty love including swaggy, groove-based lead single “The Best Thing” as well as the fiery track “Bad Love” which is about skipping town to avoid a heartbreaker. On the heels of playing to packed venues across the UK, Joanne kicked off her U.S. tour May 17th which will include stops in major cities and several summer festivals.
Learn more about Joanne Shaw Taylor in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you?
I’m well thank you! I’m currently at home in Michigan and enjoying a week off before flying to Europe on Tuesday to continue touring.
Now that we are into the 5th month of the new year, how has 2019 been treating you so far? What are some goals that you have for yourself this year? How close are you to reaching them?
So far, It’s been a pretty busy year for me! At the begging of the year my new album on Sony, Reckless Heart, was released in Europe. It went straight into the UK Top 20 album chart, so that was amazing! I did a two-month tour through the UK and Europe, then it was released in the US shortly after and to support the release, we completed a tour here! Getting on the road and taking this new album to the fans was the main goal for me in 2019! We have been focusing on Europe the last few years, so it’s been my goal to get back touring in the States! We have some really cool US festivals coming up, as well as a pretty vast North American tour that we are going to announce later in the year, so that’s awesome!
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Music was always a large part of my household growing up, my parents were both big music fans and both my dad and brother played guitar. I remember the first time I managed to save up enough pocket money and cycled into town to buy a prince tape and a sing-along cassette microphone. I don’t think it was a choice, I’ve always just loved music and think I fell into it.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
I honestly can’t think of what I would do if I wasn’t a musician. I loved soccer when I was a kid and played pretty well, but It was more of a phase than anything else and I was never very serious about it. I really enjoyed acting and was quite passionate about that. I went to a few different drama schools growing up, but I remember doing a play and going out on stage and thinking, I wish I had a guitar on me!
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
It’s been a big learning curve. I think the biggest adjustment/surprise is how much of a business it is. I thought I’d get in a band and make records and tour, but most of my day to day involves accounting, social media presence and interviews. I realized pretty quickly that I would need the right team of people around me who understood the business side of things more than I did, and I’ve been lucky to get the right team around me.
I would love to know more about being discovered by Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart? How did that all happen?
I was about 15/16 and my mom had unfortunately had breast cancer, so I performed at a local show in aid of a breast cancer charity. One of Dave’s friends was there, and he passed along a 3-track demo I’d recorded that Summer to Dave. He called my parents the next day and asked them to bring me down to London. So, we all headed down there the next day and went and met Dave at his new record label “The Artist Network”, he asked me to play and then offered me a deal. I thought he was crazy as I’d never seen a grown man wearing orange trousers before, but it was the start of a really cool friendship.
What was the inspiration for your newest single, “The Best Thing”? How creatively involved with the making of the music video for it were you?
I went to see Chris Stapleton perform in Detroit last year and found it really inspiring. 10,000 people watching three guys onstage, no fancy lights or pyro just good songs played by great musicians. I loved “Tennessee Whisky” and realized I’d never really written a cool mid-tempo soul kind of track. I came up with the music pretty quick and got lyrical inspiration from being on a break with my long-term boyfriend at the time. Unfortunately, we’d hit a rut and mostly we were not making enough time for each other and I was particularly frustrated, hence “The Best Thing”. I was tired of feeling low about it and I think I needed to remind him, and myself more importantly, that I was worth holding on to. It worked I’m happy to say.
How would you say that “The Best Thing” prepared listeners for your album, “Reckless Heart”? How does it compare to the rest of this collection?
I think it’s a pretty solid example of what to expect, this album has got a great feel to it. It’s a lot more soulful I think than some of my previous albums and lyrically, it’s a very honest album for me. All the songs are quite personal, and I think “The Best Thing” sets the tone for that.
Can you talk about what it was like working with the musicians found on this new album?
Yeah sure. I couldn’t have found a more perfect band to play on this record, they added so much. Both Ron Otis (drums) and James Simonson (bass) have a lot of experience in the soul world, Ron with Aretha, and James is MD for Bettye LaVette and that really comes through in their playing. I particularly loved how Ron would follow me on the drums and I think that shows on how the solo builds on “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, he essentially follows my lead and knows when to accent certain things. Also, Chris Codish and Phil Hale on keys added some beautiful parts. I love Phil’s piano playing on “All My Love” for example.
Where can people see you perform live next? What has been an ideal show of yours in the past?
We’re performing at various festivals around the States over the Summer. The next show is July 18th, in Kansas City with Gov’t Mule which I’m really excited about. I love festival season in the States and I’m really lucky to get the opportunity to fly out and see so many different parts of the country – I love the US fans! Plus, festivals always have a bit more of a party atmosphere to them which is cool to be part of and meet people.
How do you think you have grown as a musician since you first started singing and writing songs?
I think the biggest change has been in my voice which I’m proud of. I’ve really put a lot of hours into it, especially for this album, with the help of my vocal coach and producer Herschel Boone. I think I’ve just matured too, I think I have a better sense of who I am, what I’m about and I think that naturally comes through in the songs.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
I’m pretty useless at it I’ve got to say. Considering I’m technically a millennial, I’m not too tech savvy so I’m not as good as my label and my management would like, especially when it comes to posting videos etc. I really like Instagram. Generally, I don’t think spending too much time on social media platforms is very healthy but it’s sort of a necessary evil as a performer.
Instagram, I find the easiest to use and the friendliest of all the apps. The fans are always very respectful of each other there and it’s a nice place to interact with them for me, so I run that myself and then my management will take my posts from there and put them on other platforms like Facebook, etc.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
I have a pretty wide taste in music. There’s a band out of Australia I just discovered called The Teskey Brothers, that I’m really digging at the moment. They have a real old school Stax kinda vibe to their record. I’m also on a bit of a Bonnie Raitt kick at the moment, Bonnie’s been a huge influence on me, so I’ve been enjoying digging through my old records of hers.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
It would involve some really cool Hollywood actors and I’d stay home! Ha, I much prefer performing live to being on camera so I’m happy to leave that to the professionals, but I wouldn’t mind tagging along if it was in a really exotic location. That or they’d get me a really cool car to drive, an old Aston Martin or a 60’s muscle car.
What has been a favorite place that you have heard your music played? Can you remember the first time you ever heard a song of yours on the radio, on TV or elsewhere?
I was in a bar a few weeks ago in Detroit and they were playing my song “Mudhoney” which was funny, as my good friend that I was with knew he recognized the song and artist but couldn’t quite figure out who it was. I never told him.
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I just hope they get some pleasure out of it. It would be nice to think somebody benefits from the songs if they’re going through a similar situation and manage to take some comfort from them. That would be very rewarding.
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about your music?
I just hope they enjoy listening to it!