Trower’s new studio album, Joyful Sky, represents vindication for his latest flash of artistic instinct. Always receptive to singers who can elevate his emotive guitar touch, the 78-year-old heard a quality in the smoky power of the acclaimed New Yorker Sari Schorr that made him want to tear down and rebuild his songcraft around her.
“I’ve worked with some great vocalists over the years but Sari is dynamite, just an absolute knockout,” reflects Trower. “This album really pushed me, made me write in different keys and arrange songs for her voice. I went more down the R&B route this time, because I knew she’d be great with that flavour. But the blues still underpins everything I do – and there’s definitely elements from my ’70s stuff in this new album.”
The greatest moments in Trower’s discography have become required listening for any student of rock ‘n’ roll. Don’t bet against the highlights of Joyful Sky joining the canon. “Burn is about someone who’s trying to calm down their partner,” he says of the smouldering opener, which sets up the propulsive and faintly Bond-like groove of I’ll Be Moving On. “That one gets me right where I live,” says the guitarist. “It’s soulful, has a vibe about it.”
With Trower’s trusty combination of Stratocaster and Marshall set to a throaty roar – matched by Schorr’s sultry belt – The Distance and Peace Of Mind are two of the album’s hardest rockers. “The first song is looking back at when you were younger and how far away that now seems at my great age,” smiles the guitarist. “And Peace Of Mind is really about my time as a touring musician. Need For You is about being on the road, too.”
As the album gathers pace, Joyful Sky kicks out against expectations with the soulful ode to self-empowerment on Change It, the dramatic guitar effects of the title track and The Circle Is Complete’s seven-minute transition from a driving rocker to the kind of mournful extended outro solo at which Trower is untouchable. “That ending made the song more cinematic,” says Schorr, “and because I see songs as little movies, for me, it really worked.”
Joyful Sky Tracklisting:
10. I Will Always Be Your Shelter