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"On Dust Bowl, my mission statement was to re-establish myself as a solo artist. I wanted to make a rootsy blues record and remind people that I'm not from England or Greece, which some fans may think. Getting some earthy grit on the tracks was important, but at the same time, I wanted to make a blues album that was different. Basically, I didn't want to compete with myself.
"If you listen to my last few albums, you hear a progression. Last year, though, I did an about-face and made a big rock record with Black Country Communion. Obviously, I knew I shouldn't try to out-rock that! [laughs] But I didn't want to repeat what I had already done solo-wise. So I had to look for new places creatively…mentally, spiritually. It was challenging.
“A few people have remarked to me that Dust Bowl sounds more ‘mature,' and I thought, Well, I made my last record a year ago... I’m not that much older! [laughs] But a compliment’s a compliment. I’ll take it.
“To be honest, it was a hard album to make. I was coming off a whirlwind year. In 2010, I played over 200 dates. I also made the Black Country Communion album and did some promotional gigs with them. So right when I thought I had a break in November, Kevin Shirley, my producer, told me we had studio time booked in Greece. I was like, ‘We do?!‘ I had to clear my head and get creative - fast. The first three days were rough, and I was panicking. But after a while, the band [Anton Fig, drums; Carmine Rojas, bass; Rick Melick, keyboards] arrived and things started coming to me, like the song Dust Bowl.
Vocally, I think I’ve grown. Still, I can’t compete with some of the guest stars who grace the album, legends like Vince Gill and John Hiatt. I was thrilled that they even knew who I was, let alone that they’d want to do duets with me. Man, those guys are smokin’! And Beth Hart, too - she’s unreal. You’ve got to have your A-game on when you work with people like that.
We recorded in a few places - Greece, Malibu, Los Angeles - but to me, there’s a different vibe on the Nashville sessions we did with Vince and John. Of course, I’m playing with a different band, so that explains a lot. But the attitude and spirit is new. I was out of my comfort zone - but in a good way. The Nashville tracks came out great, and they add a nice mix to the record. All in all, it feels pretty seamless."