Joe Bonamassa

Redemption
(J&R Adventures)

A favorite whipping boy of the “not really the blues” crowd, Joe Bonamassa widely has been panned as soulless and derivative. He usually answers critics with another chart-topping, technically superior blues-rock disc. And on Redemption, the guitarist extends a middle finger to those who question his bona fides. The opening quartet of songs, all co-penned by Bonamassa, veer from Led Zeppelin re-riffing to generic ’60s horn-driven rock and Spinal Tap-style parody. Just about the time you’re sure Bonamassa is taking credit for tunes written by some lost blues-rock band, Nashville songwriter James House arrives with contributions to five infinitely more interesting numbers. Taking in the deep, murky title track, you realize that the guitarist isn’t all about over-emoting and pretense in the name of virtuosity. That track sets the stage for the loser’s lament “I’ve Got Some Mind Over What Matters,” musically and lyrically the best cut here. It helps that Bonamossa’s band is rock solid, and with judicious use of the fast-forward button, there’s more than enough to merit absolution for Redemption.