BETH HART & JOE BONAMASSA – Black Coffee (2018)
Two blues-rock powerhouses, singer / songwriter Beth Hart and guitar hero Joe Bonamassa team up on their new album, “Black Coffee“, to be released January 26, 2018.
BETH HART & JOE BONAMASSA reunited for this collection of scorching interpretations of soul songs done in a quite rocking mode that pair Beth Hart’s thrilling vocals with Joe B.’s masterful playing.
With producer extraordinaire Kevin ‘The Caveman’ Shirley (Led Zeppelin,Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, Rush) back at the helm, the result digs deep into the soul catalogue where they honour and re-imagine songs from such diverse artists like Edgar Winter, Ike & Tina Turner – Steve Marriot / Humble Pie, etc.
Recorded in 5 days at the Palms, Las Vegas, there’s also at session some of the greatest musicians around; Anton Fig (Kiss, Joe Satriani) on drums & percussion, Reese Wynans (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Van Zant) on keys, Michael Rhodes on bass, and many more.
Waht really surprised me about “Black Coffee” is the mostly upbeat, hard-hitting rocking approach on these soul music tunes. A collection of (mostly) not-so-familiar songs by familiar artists, its earthy, electrified reinventions breathe new life into old numbers while giving the guitarist and the singer plenty of room to show off, all within icy-tight arrangements.
A fiery no-holds-barred take on Edgar Winter’s “Give It Everything You Got” opens the album. A clawing guitar riff introduces a soul barrage fueled by steely horns and glistening backing vocals. Equally good is Etta James’ “Damn Your Eyes,” with Hart’s bluesy belt dripping with passion.
The title track, originally by Ike & Tina Turner and covered by Humble Pie in the 1970s, with the ensemble here sounding fury and emotional.
“Why Don’t You Do It Right”, a hit for Peggy Lee in 1941, re-emerges swinging like a Joe Jackson revival amid swirls of blues-rock guitar from Bonamassa, who seems even more inspired than usual.
One of the most surprising and effective tracks is “Lullaby of the Leaves”, written for Broadway in the early 1930s and recorded beautifully by Ella Fitzgerald in 1964. The ballad moves Hart into smoky torch-song territory, her low velvety tones choked with sublimated pain. It then grows into a dramatic rock tour-de-force as Bonamassa delivers a guitar solo over a great rhythmic development.
Another highlight, “Sittin’ on Top of the World,” gets a smooth Chicago-blues interpretation and more gravitas than it can bear. There’s a heavy arrangement on LaVern Baker’s “Soul on Fire”, while on Lucinda Williams’ “Joy,” Hart sings her heart out over an electronic-style track.
The album closes with the obscure “Addicted,” copped from ’90s Austrian electronic trio Waldeck and given a dark, pop-electronic sheen. Muted vocals from Hart suggest Adele at her grimmest.
It’s a weird ending to an album loaded with brilliant energy and musicianship and a fair number of surprises.
Together these 10 tracks reinforce Bonamassa’s versatility and Hart’s status as one of our era’s supreme blueswomen. They’re a match made someplace pretty darned close to heaven.
Honestly, here’s some of the most inspired Bonamassa’s playing from the last ten years, and it’s possibly Hart’s best album ever.
01 – Give It Everything You Got
02 – Dam Your Eyes
03 – Black Coffee
04 – Lullaby Of The Leaves
05 – Why Don’t You Do Right
06 – Saved
07 – Sitting On Top Of The World
08 – Joy
09 – Soul On Fire
10 – Addicted
Beth Hart – Vocals
Joe Bonamassa – Guitars
Michael Rhodes – Bass
Anton Fig – Drums, Percussion
Reese Wynans – Keyboards
Ron Dziubla, Paulie Cerra – Saxophone
Lee Thornburg – Horns
Rob McNelley – Rhythm Guitar
Mahalia Barnes – Backing Vocals
Jade Macrae – Backing Vocals
Juanita Tippins – Backing vocals