photo by: David McClister
Paving her own lane in the blues rock/soul guitar world, Joanne Shaw Taylor takes us inside her most personal record.
Discovered at age 16 by Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart, Joanne Shaw Taylor, a dynamic songwriter, has spent a decade releasing increasingly successful albums and touring the world – winning over fans such as Stevie Wonder, Joe Bonamassa, Foreigner, and Annie Lennox. The powerhouse poured herself into her forthcoming release, Reckless Heart, an album drenched in emotion with the rawness of its sound mirrored in its lyrics. Both a make-up and a break-up album, it was written by Taylor during two phases of a relationship: the fall out and getting back together.
In several senses, Reckless Heart is an album of firsts for Taylor. It’s the first made in her adopted home town of Detroit, the first produced by her close friend Al Sutton (Greta Van Fleet, Kid Rock), the first largely recorded live (with no guitar pedals and with some of Detroit’s best musicians – among them jazz drummer Ron Otis, bassist James Simonson, and keyboardists Phil Hale and Chris Codish), the first to feature an unplugged solo performance, and the first with her new label home Silvertone/Sony. Reckless Heart features 11 tracks that explore a variety of emotions ranging from blaring anger to flirty love. The album, recorded live with some of Detroit’s best musicians, features 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, Taylor resumes her summer tour this week in the UK.
How would explain the anticipation of the release of Reckless Heart?
It definitely feels like there’s more of a build up with this album. It’s been over two years since I released my previous album, Wild, my previous album which is the largest break I’ve had between albums, so it does feel like the fans are ready for new music from me which is great. Also, it’s my first one on a major label and I’ve decided to use a brand-new producer, so I think that’s got my core fanbase curious about what it’s going to sound like.
Can you take us on your personal journey from the start of this record to the recording process?
Well this is quite a personal album for me. All the songs I wrote with the exception of “In the Mood”, which is a co-write with James House. I hit a bit of a bump in the road in my romantic relationship, and I felt that I really was in a place where I needed to write about it and create something. Unfortunately, my manager at the time didn’t agree so I had to fight a bit to be able to write this album. Hence, I’m so proud of it. Because it’s such a personal album to me, it was really exciting to hear the songs come to life from my demos, to the recorded songs in the studio.
What was your writing process like – where and when were many of these songs written?
I wrote the bulk of the album at my Dad’s house in London. I did a UK tour supporting Foreigner in May of 2018 and stayed a few extra weeks in the UK to spend time with my dad and write. I wrote most of the songs in that time and we recorded in July of 2018.
Did you have concepts or emotions that you aimed to express?
Not really, I just had a lot going on in my personal life and had a lot of things that I felt I needed to get off my chest so to speak. I just wanted the songs to be honest and open.
What are some obstacles you have overcome on your journey as an artist to “Reckless Heart”?
There were a lot of changes that I had to make in my business life last year to get to this album. I changed management, dissolved my own label and moved to Sony. The previous few years had been messy for me after I lost my Mom and briefly moved back to the UK. I think I was still grieving to some extent and didn’t realize it. I think the fog lifted finally last year and I realized I was in a better place and wanted to change things up a little. I certainly felt I had an album worth of songs in me that I needed to write.
“In the Mood” is such a strong opening song – it really opens the curtains to this album – do you feel the song serves as an introduction to the record as a whole?
Thank you! I thought that song was the perfect opener, especially because it was co-written with James House, whom I wrote most of the previous album with. It felt like a nice way of progressing from my last album Wild and introducing the listener to Reckless Heart.
How do you feel this record will translate live – with the headlining tour you have coming up and some really great venues?
It’s been working out really well, I have about seven songs off Reckless Heart in the current set and they’ve been great to play live. “Bad Love” and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” are my current set favourites.
To come full circle – what does Reckless Heart mean to you?
I think it’s the beginning of a new chapter for me in my career or so it feels like it. If nothing else, it’s a really nice feeling to be able to go through something difficult and turn it into something positive – like the 11 songs on this album. I hope people enjoy listening to them and maybe get something out of them.