Joe Bonamassa

So, It's Like That

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    5
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Joe Bonamassa may well be a young guitar virtuoso, in line with the likes of Derek Trucks and John Mayer (like Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd before them) to be the Next Blues-Rock Guitar Hero. Unfortunately, he's not much of a songwriter. So, It's Like That, his sophomore solo effort, is filled with subpar tunes bloated with clich├ęs. The production (by Clif Magness) is swell enough, though Bonamassa's guitar sometimes sounds too carefully dirty, and his band -- comprised of drummer Kenny Kramme and bassist Eric Czar -- far too generic. Bonamassa shines when he is allowed to stretch out and explore, on songs such as the sonically varied "Pain and Sorrow." There, on a long improvisation, he works through myriad modes of playing, textures, and musical ideas. And, since it is one of the album's only extended tracks, it is also one of the album's only redeeming moments -- and the only thing that clearly separates Bonamassa from generic boorishness.

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