Review Summary: I've been loving you too long.
I’m always filled with dread when it comes to listening to an album like this. After all, this is Joanne Shaw Taylor’s sixth studio album and it’s abundantly clear at this point that she knows what she’s doing. Reckless Heart
continues to refine Joanne’s blues rock writing style with a couple of new additions to add vitality to her work. Her distinguished hallmarks are now soaked in hard-edge rock riffs and the gospel persuasion; the former brings an urgency to the songs, while the latter offers what is possibly the most interesting aspect of the entire record. The Hammond Organ’s bright melodies nestle comfortably under the hard rock aesthetic and makes the likes of “The Best Thing” and “Reckless Heart” far more engaging because of it. The piano’s bouncy keys add an upbeat vibrancy to “In the Mood”, while the album’s arsenal of blues guitar solos bring an authoritative presence to every song they invade. The production is excellent, integrating and handling an authentic American Gospel style in a way that sounds organic next to what is essentially a 70s hard rock homage record. Everything feels and sounds well-made, and it’s clear that a lot of effort went into the making of this album, yet, there is always a looming sense of boredom that haunts me every time I go back to it.
This is where the guilt sets itself in; criticising an album that does everything well but never manages to overcome creative banality. It’s not unfair to brand Reckless Heart
as an echoic labour of love to what the genre’s architects did 40-some years ago. There’s nothing here that indicates an evolution for the genre, nor does it break the mould from an artistic point of view. Like her previous works, Taylor continues to assimilate previous successes, transcribing and replicating ideas for her own songs – and with stellar execution I might add. However, the energy being emitted from Reckless Heart
is ostensible, and doesn’t take much digging to unearth a lack of soul coming from this highly polished slab of classic rock. Joanne’s vocal range is impressive, warm and at times melancholic, but the problem is that her enactment is ultimately delivered in a repetitious, one-note and vanilla fashion the further you venture into it. It’s a tough record to break apart, because it’s far from bad. Even with its inherently safe writing formula, it still has the decency to make overused tropes their own thing to some degree – creating a consistent vibe that is ran with until the end. And I fully respect that. That said, while it offers little in the way of innovation or engagement, it’s a sound that will certainly please fans of this desired style. While it’s not necessarily for me, I can appreciate the level of skill that’s gone into Reckless Heart
, and fans of classic rock should get ample enjoyment from it.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://www.joanneshawtaylor.com/