Joanna & the Devil from Italian rockers BigDix is an album which despite its inconsistency still offers a pleasing party for the ear. The band with a name it is impossible to ignore or keep school boy humour at bay from, takes the listener through a boisterous spree of blues and hard rock brought with some mischievous psychedelic tendencies upon their album, the release simple rock n roll to have fun with.
The band formed in 2010 with the intention of blending original rock and blues with a heavy dose of hard rock. The following year saw the release of their debut album Kiss My Ace, which like their latest release was recorded at Tanzan Music Studio. It was well received though the band was set back a little with the departure of vocalist Pietro Peroni. Now with the settled line-up of Matteo “Icio” Idini (lead vocals, guitar), Fabio “Colva” Corradi (guitar, lap steel, dobro, background vocals), Mattia “Boky” Mosconi (bass, background vocals), and Marco Idini (drum, percussion), the band has returned with cylinders firing with Joanna & the Devil to easily please their fans and garner plenty more one suspects.
The album starts with the teasing You Make Me Crazy, an easy going eager slab of rock n roll. The song alone suggests the band is one who has no delusions of being anything more than a feel good and accomplished rock band. The whole album confirms it and it is this honesty which makes the release a good fun companion. As with the album overall, the song is simple but crafted with skill, its presence a feast of keen energy and pulse racing rock sounds.
As mentioned the release is uneven across its length but with tracks like the following uncomplicated hard rock track Change the Way it is impossible not to fully engage with it more often than not. The excellent cover of the Dennis Linde written Elvis Presley hit Burning Love is another feisty treat of aural pleasure, the band not doing more than giving it extra steel and energy but making it sparkle. Featuring a great solo from guest guitarist Mario Percudani of the band Hungryheart, the song is one of the t highlights of the album.
Songs like Believe, the woozy Psychedelic Blues, and the fragile ballad Time for Love, do not light any fires mainly due to personal taste, but one can appreciate the composing and their presentation. They just do not fire up anything more than nodding respect though, something which cannot be applied to the trio of songs which mark the second half of the album.
Firstly there is the lustful So Hot, a song which is as lusty as the title suggests and takes great pleasure from it. A straight forward rock song with a tongue firmly in its cheek it is another slice of fun to light up the album. The following Devil’s Blues and The Black Man are the triumph of the album, both muscular tracks with plenty of rippling passion. The first is another blues driven song which from its early narrative like scene setting turns into a mix of scorched guitars and beckoning rhythms veined with sizzling grooves. Its successor is a robust brew of attitude driven riffs and air blistering melodic enterprise, its blues breath smouldering in the ear and sparking the air. It is the most complete song on the album and the best.
Joanna & the Devil is an enjoyable album which even with its broken levels of quality is still a release any rock and blues fan should take a look at, as when it is on fire it is very easy to spend lots of time with.
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