Six String Stories – Joanna Connor – The Best Blues of 2016?
A couple of weeks ago, I spotted an album titled Six String Stories on the Roots Music Report Blues Chart. The artist was Joanna Connor. Since the title of the album was interesting and I had never heard of Ms. Connor, I went to Spotify and gave it a quick listen. Wow! It sounded great! But then my ADD kicked in and I was soon off listening to other albums and Six String Stories was set aside.
Somehow at the end of last week the album caught my attention again and I went back to Spotify and listened to it again. Boy am I glad I did! Ms. Connor is one hell of a slide guitarist! She may even give my favorite slide guitarist Dave Hole a run for his money!
How Have I Missed Joanna Connor?
So why have I never heard of Ms. Connor? Well, it seems that her career started out way back in 1989 with the release of her debut album Believe It released on Blind Pig Records. Eight more albums followed over the next ten years. After the release of The Joanna Connor Band in 2002, decided to take a break from recording ad touring to raise her daughter. She has continued to play live locally in her adopted home Chicago.
The reason I have never heard of Ms.Connor may be that she began he career during MY period of child rearing. In 1989 Sharon, Lois and Bram and Raffi spent more time on my turntable than blues! Additionally, she hasn’t released any albums during the time, when I rediscovered the blues, and started exploring new artists more fully. So now back to Six String Stories!
About Six String Stories
One of the things that I really liked about Six String Stories was the variety in Joanna;s music.Joanna’s fiery slide blues licks are mixed in among some soul, gospel and funk! Of the ten tracks on the album Joanna co-wrote eight of them with Marion Lance Lewis, a multi-instrumentalist and mainstay of her live band. In his review in Elmore magazine Jim Hynes writes….
….Connor sings like she wields her axe, fiercely with a “take no prisoners” approach. The opener, “It’s a Woman’s Way” and “By Your Side” feature her trademark slide. She takes the slow blues route on “We Stayed Together,” trading some verses with Lewis. She treats Jill Scott’s “Golden” with the right jazz-soul feel as it morphs into funk over her spoken part. The bayou-inspired “Swamp Swim” shows the improvisational side of her playing especially when offset by the guitar heavy “Halsted Street.” The centerpiece of the album is “Heaven” which brings in the gospel with horns and the Lewis Family Singers.. Connor says, “I wrote that as more of a political song with West African feel, but Lance gave it more of a gospel sound. His brothers are pastors and have churches so they brought that kind of feel to it.” The much covered “Sky is Crying’ sounds like a completely different tune here Read More
Bottom – Line
Six String Stories may be my favorite blues album of the year! It has everything I love in an album, Fantastic guitar playing coupled with well-written and sung songs. A couple of great covers are also thrown in the mix. .My favorite tracks so far are “It’s a Woman’s Way” and “By Your Side” and the two instrumentals “Swamp Swim” and “Halsted Street”. So Check it Out! And as per usual I have a lot of back-catalog music to explore!!
Rating: (Four Thumbs Up out of 5)
Links for the Further Exploration of the Music of Joanna Connor
Here is that video from The North Atlantic Blues Festival……enjoy!