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"Some albums fight you. You get stuck on something – a sound, a solo, a song – and before you know it, you're having a knock-down-drag-out brawl with yourself. Not that the sound of struggle is a bad thing; in fact, most of the time it makes for great music. But you don't want to beat up on yourself for no reason.
"Driving Towards The Daylight fell into place pretty easily. It was kind of just meant to be. We did it in two sections – one in August of 2011 and another in February of this year. We did a lot of recording at the Studio at The Palms in Las Vegas. It had been seven years since I did an album there, and the vibe was great – I could tell from the first downbeat that everything was going to sound amazing.
"When I go in to make a record, I do a little word association thing. It sort of sets the tone for what will unfold. The Ballad Of John Henry was 'swampy.' Black Rock was 'worldly.' Dust Bowl was 'Americana.' The word for this album was 'blues.' I had done enough records with bouzoukis and weird stuff. It was time to get back to my roots. [producer] Kevin [Shirley] and I looked at each other and said, 'Let's do a blues record' – meaning our definition of the blues.
"Guitar-wise, I had a nice cast of characters: my two '59 Les Pauls and my '60 Les Paul. Some friends loaned me a few wonderful Teles and a couple of other guitars. It was a vintage collector's dream. I kind of looked around and said, 'Man, if I screw this up, I really suck!'
"Brad Whitford played on the album, and he was awesome. I met Brad through his sons, who I'm friends with, and Kevin Shirley knows him from working with Aerosmith. He came to Vegas, brought his gear, and we had a terrific week together. We speak the same language, Brad and I, all that British blues from the '60s. He's so gifted – a joy to work with.
"Even though this album is the sound of me getting back to basics, it's an adventurous record. From the originals I wrote to the cover tunes that we selected, I was inspired throughout. You can't fake inspiration – either it's there or it's not. I'm very pleased to say I was feeling it all the way."
Joe Bonamassa's Driving Towards The Daylight will be released on 22 May. On the following pages, he discusses the record track-by-track.