I’ve been very lucky to have had a sneak preview of the upcoming album from Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa entitled ‘Don’t Explain‘.
Beth Hart is a Los Angeles based singer-songwriter who is good friends with Joe and is renowned for having a raw and powerful blues-rock voice. Whilst in London in early 2010 Joe was at one of Beth’s shows and was immediately blown away, in fact he thought “It was killer,” and suggested they should do a project together sometime.
To get an idea of what Joe witnessed, here’s Beth Hart in a more rockin mode with Slash:
“I was up late one night, I couldn’t sleep. I was playing songs on my iPod from the reissue of Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out, which included all the opening acts from that Stones show,” he recalls. “As soon as the Ike & Tina Turner tracks came on, I just said out loud, ‘Beth Hart.’
I emailed Kevin, saying, ‘Let’s do a soul covers record with Beth,’ and he replied back, ‘Actually, that’s a great idea.’”
The Kevin mentioned is Kevin Shirley who has produced Joe’s last five albums and has also produced “Don’t explain“.
The album itself is a collection of classic soul and blues covers:
1. Sinner’s Prayer (Ray Charles w/ B.B. King)
2. Chocolate Jesus (Tom Waits)
3. Your Heart Is As Black As Night (Melody Gardot)
4. For My Friend (Bill Withers)
5. Don’t Explain (Billie Holiday)
6. I’d Rather Go Blind (Etta James)
7. Something’s Got A Hold On Me (Etta James)
8. I’ll Take Care Of You (Gil Scott-Heron)
9. Well, Well (Delaney & Bonnie)
10. Ain’t No Way (Aretha Franklin)
The album kicks off with the classic “Sinner’s Prayer” by Ray Charles and BB King, opening with Joe playing the main riff on slide guitar but when Beth Hart’s sultry blues vocals kicks in you know you are in for a treat!
Somehow I had never heard of Beth Hart before this, I don’t know why because her voice is truly sublime. Like a blend of Janis Joplin and Etta James, her voice ranges from jazzy soulful tones to full on raw anguished screams. You can really connect with the lyrics when a voice is this good.
Her voice perfectly suits the fantastic cover of Tom Wait’s “Chocolate Jesus” (an album highlight for me) and is out of this world on “I’d Rather Go Blind“. This classic is a favourite song of mine anyway, but the version on “Don’t Explain” is pretty special. Between Beth’s otherwordly vocals and Joe’s extended heartfelt guitar solo, it’s 8 mins of musical bliss.
I imagine many Joe Bonamassa fans will snap this album up, as usual his playing is fantastic, but this isn’t just a ‘guitarist’s’ album. Beth Hart’s exceptional vocal performances make this accessible to any music fans who love classic soul and blues.
It’s just sublime, so much so I’ve had it on constant repeat .
For Fans Of: Great Soul and Blues, BB King, Janis Joplin, Etta James, Aretha Franklin
Standout tracks: Chocolate Jesus, I’d Rather Go Blind, Somethings Got A hold On Me
UK Release Date: Monday 26th September.
As another little taster, you can download the track “Well, Well” for free!