Beth Hart / Joe Bonamassa
J & R Adventures - 2011
It isn't often that I'm interested in an all-covers album. This album, however, had me not only interested but considering this a must purchase without hearing so much as a note of the disc beforehand.
Joe Bonamassa is quite well known in the blues music field and over the last year has made himself quite a reputation in the rock arena for his work as part of Black Country Communion. Beth Hart is pure awesomeness. She's got a marvelous voice combined with the actual performance chops of a master craftsman. (Or craftswoman if you happen to be hung up on proper identifiers).
When you combine the two of them it can almost be expected that their output would be fantastic. And that would be true in the case of Don't Explain. The lineup of artists that they cover is amazing. Tom Waits, Ray Charles, Bill Withers, Melanie Gardot, two Etta James songs, Billie Holliday and more.
There's a great essay that covers each track and both the recording and inspiration behind the choice of the songs. Anton Fig on drums is just one of the notable guest musicians. The musical palette combines blues, soul, rock, jazz and country.
Hart and Bonamassa duet on "Well, Well" but otherwise she is the voice and he is laying down smoking hot guitar chops. Bonamassa provides a wailing insistent soundtrack on "I'd Rather Go Blind" and simply shreds on my favorite track "For My Friends."
Hart is sultry and seductive with her burning vocals on "Sinner's Prayer". On the Tom Waits' track "Chocolate Jesus" she has this oddly endearing bouncy vocal delivery. It's a weird sounding song overall but it works.
I liked the orchestral tinged tracks "Your Heart Is As Black As Night" and the title track. "Something's Got A Hold On Me" opens slow but then kicks it up a notch to a faster tempo.
Hart oozes a smooth sultry style, she is a most favored artist by me. She simply "rocks" it whatever the material. Her live DVD Live at Paradiso confirms she can hold an audience spellbound.
Bonamassa holds the attention of any listener with his riffs and rhythms, making you love what you are hearing and left wanting just that much more.
This album, while not necessarily associated with my prefered style of music, shows you can't dismiss anything without hearing it. If you hear this album, you will be blown away with what can only be described as a musical tapestry woven with heart, passion and the desire to honor the artists who inspired Hart and Bonamassa.
Grade: A PLUS