Adam Kennedy talks with blues/rock singer, songwriter and guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor about her return to the North-East.

BRITISH blues supremo Joanne Shaw Taylor is preparing for the release of her forthcoming 2024 studio album with an extensive run of UK headline shows in February.

The artist – who hails from the Midlands – presently lives in Nashville, or Music City as it's affectionately known, a destination renowned for being one of the hubs of the US music industry alongside cities such as Los Angeles.

With so much competition in Nashville it can be a difficult place for an artist to cut their teeth.

"On the main stretch, the doors are open, the windows are open and there's a band in the window next door to each other for a whole street. I'm very fortunate that I moved to Nashville, but not to make it as my career was already established,” explains Joanne.

The Northern Echo: Joanne Shaw Taylor Photo by Stacie Huckeba

Many have commented that Nashville is a ten-year town, because it takes at least ten years to make it there.

“I just feel here that I can go off and tour. I don't have to wheel my amp down Broadway for a set that lasts between 10pm and 2am. I have friends who do that, and it's like good for you, you're young and you can do that when you're 25, but you're not doing it when you're nearly 40,” says Joanne.

In between working on her upcoming new album Joanne also welcomed a new member to her family – her dog, Hank. If you've looked at Joanne's socials in recent times you'll have noticed that he's become a celebrity in his own right.

"It's been really fun because I'm rubbish at socials – all I do is post a picture of my face on stage,” she says. “Then lo and behold, I bought a puppy. Now all I have to do is take a photo of him and everyone goes nuts. So, it's great.”

The Northern Echo: Joanne Shaw Taylor Photo by Stacie Huckeba

In the build-up to the release of her new album, Joanne has been drip-feeding singles to whet her fan base's appetite for what's to come. So far four songs from the record have been released, one of the first singles being Sweet 'Lil Lies, a song with an unmistakable JST sound.

“I had a few ideas left over from Nobody’s Fool, the album with Joe [Bonamassa], that I didn't feel were quite right for that album. I knew I wanted to bring them to this, but that was the first brand new song. It was fun because I sat down at a piano and... I can't play the piano by the way... I just worked out that piano part and thought that's kind of catchy, in an annoying way, which is usually a good sign,” says Joanne.

“So it was really refreshing for that. And it was a pretty easy song to write, to be honest. I think I did it in a day.”

The most recent single to be released from the album was a cover of All The Way From America by Joan Armatrading, a track which producer Kevin Shirley was instrumental in putting forward.

“I think it's such an art form to be able to take someone else's words and make them your own. I will happily admit that Kevin is brilliant at that, and I am not. It was his suggestion,” says Joanne.

“I'd never heard the song before we listened to it in the studio, and it was obviously very different to anything I've done before, and also quite different vocally. But when we got into singing it, I loved how it stretched me as a vocalist. I had to change. I couldn't go to my usual 'I'm going to shout some blues'. I had to think about diction and the delivery of it. Actually it's turned out to be one of my favourite songs on the album. I think Kevin did a brilliant job and credit to Joan Armatrading – it's a beautiful song.”

The Northern Echo: Joanne Shaw Taylor Photo by Stacie Huckeba

With a whole raft of new material under her belt, has Joanne considered what the setlist might look like for her upcoming UK dates?

"Usually you change up your setlist when a new album comes out, but we haven't done that – we've just been drip-feeding songs. So, we put in Wild Love and Sweet ‘Lil Lies,” says Joanne.

“We've gone back and picked some older stuff from the Reckless Heart album, too. I think Diamonds In The Dirt, just to freshen it up for us. It's hard to play the same songs night after night for a year and still put on a fresh performance for the audience. We'll be mixing in some of the singles and some of the older stuff.”

Returning to the UK is always a special occasion for the US-based artist.

“I’m super looking forward to the UK," she says. "It's just little things. Getting into Heathrow and making my way to Marks & Spencers to be able to eat the British things I've missed. Then to go and see my aunt in Wolverhampton and my dad in London.

"It's lovely to be able to tour the UK, but obviously, there's a bit of extra magic there for me.”

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Joanne Shaw Taylor’s upcoming run will see her return to the North-East for a date at the Fire Station in Sunderland.

"I always look forward to the UK dates, and there are certain places I definitely want to see. Newcastle or Sunderland. Great crowds, I love them. I haven't spent that much time in Sunderland other than at the shows, but I've spent a lot of time in Newcastle,” says Joanne. “It's always nice to see some touristy stuff like York. London, obviously, but it's the UK, and I love all of it really.”

Joanne Shaw Taylor plays The Fire Station in Sunderland on Wednesday, February 21. Tickets available from