Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Don’t Explain (2011, J&R Adventures)
1. Sinner’s Prayer … 4:27
2. Chocolate Jesus … 2:39
3. Your Heart Is as Black as Night … 5:00
4. For My Friends… 4:11
5. Don’t Explain … 4:34
6. I’d Rather Go Blind … 8:06
7. Something’s Got a Hold on Me … 6:05
8. I’ll Take Care of You … 5:13
9. Well, Well … 3:42
10. Ain’t No Way … 6:47
Beth Hart – Vocals, Piano
Joe Bonamassa – Guitar, Vocals
Blondie Chaplin – Guitar
Carmine Rojas – Bass
Anton Fig – Drums, Percussion
Arlan Scheirbaum – Keyboards
Producer: Kevin Shirley
Joey Bones has had quite a busy year! In 2011, not only did he released the excellent Dust Bowl solo album but there was also a second helping from super-group Black Country Communion with 2 and now he’s partnered up with Beth Hart for a collection of blues, soul and jazz covers.
Though there are a number of uptempo moments like “Chocolate Jesus”, “For My Friends” and “Well, Well”, it’s the slower numbers and tender moments that I found myself enjoying most. “Your Heart Is As Black As The Night”, “Don’t Explain”, “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “I’ll Take Care of You” are fantastic soulful and sultry jazz numbers with Beth Hart putting in a great performance on these songs. I know of Beth Hart but I’m not familiar with any of her work but it’s easy to say from this album alone that she’s a great vocalist who can handle either bluesy rockers or soulful ballads.
Then, of course, there’s Joe Bonamassa who is proving himself to be one of the greatest guitarists of his generation whether he’s playing blues or straight up hard rock. There’s a lot of great solos and emotional lead work on this disc.
An album such as this is not something I would normally try but with the October 2011 issue of Classic Rock giving it a good review (and knowing I enjoyed Joe’s Dust Bowl and BCC works), I decided to give it a shot. A collection of blues, soul and jazz is something I’d have to really be in the mood to listen to but on a cold, dreary Autumn afternoon, it fit my mood and I found myself enjoying it a lot.
Don’t Explain may not be the album of the year for me and outside of my usual brain-dead listening circle of rock & metal but I found it to be a good listen and fans of both Joe & Beth should check it out.
Highlights: “Your Heart Is as Black as Night”, “Don’t Explain”, “I’d Rather Go Blind”, “I’ll Take Care of You”, “Ain’t No Way”
Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl (2011, J&R Adventures)
1. “Slow Train” … 6:49
2. “Dust Bowl “… 4:33
3. “Tennessee Plates” … 4:18
4. “The Meaning of the Blues” … 5:44
5. “Black Lung Heartache” … 4:14
6. “You Better Watch Yourself” … 3:30
7. “The Last Matador of Bayonne” … 5:23
8. “Heartbreaker” … 5:49
9. “No Love on the Street” … 6:32
10. “The Whale That Swallowed Jonah” … 4:46
11. “Sweet Rowena” … 4:34
12. “Prisoner” … 6:48
Joe Bonamassa – Vocals, Guitar, Slide Guitar
Glenn Hughes – Vocals (“Heartbreaker”)
Beth Hart – Vocals (“No Love On The Street”)
John Hiatt – Vocals (“Tennessee Plates”)
Vince Gill – Guitar (“Tennessee Plates”, “Sweet Rowena”), Vocals (“Sweet Rowena”)
Blondie Chaplin – Guitar
Carmine Rojas, Michael Rhodes – Bass
Anton Fig, Chad Cromwell – Drums
Rick Melick – Organ, Synthesizer
Steve Nathan – Organ, Piano
Producer: Kevin Shirley
I have been curious about the “new” blues scene for quite some time. UK’s Classic Rock magazine often does features on new and old blues musicians so it got me interested and I figured I might as well start with the scene’s current modern marvel Joey Bones (or JoBo, if you prefer).
While I don’t know how this compares to Bonamassa’s previous efforts, Dust Bowl is all that a current blues-guitarist’s album should sound like. While it’s fairly standard for blues artists to cover old blues songs (only half the album features original material), I think I would get very bored if this album was just a repeat of songs from decades and decades ago. Luckily, Joe isn’t content to merely dig up the past.
Fans of Stevie Ray Vaughan will enjoy this album a lot as that is who I am reminded on songs like “Slow Train” and “You Better Watch Yourself”. Still, Joe’s own style shines through with “Dust Bowl” (my favorite track and the most accessible), the ballad “The Last Matador of Bayonne” (which sounds like it could’ve been on one of Black Country Communion’s albums), the excellent “Black Lung Heartache” (which start off sounding like bluegrass then turns into hard rock) and “The Whale That Swallowed Jonah”. Another high point on the album is “The Meaning of the Blues”. A lot of passion behind that song and it is the epitome of a great blues song, IMO.
Despite Joe being known primarily as a blues rock guitarist, country/folk music and classic rock have their places on this album. John Hiatt’s “Tennessee Plates”, Vince Gill’s “Sweet Rowena” and Free’s “Heartbreaker” are all covered. Hiatt and Gill both pitch in on their respective songs while “The Voice of Rock” Glenn Hughes lends his voice to “Heartbreaker” and again this is a song that could’ve ended up in BCC. Heck, Joe even covers Tim Curry’s “No Love On The Street” with Beth Hart lending vocals. I never even knew Cardinal Richelieu had an album… much less three! I always thought his musical experiences were tied only to the theater and Rocky Horror Picture Show.
In the liner notes (where he comes across as very likable, down-to-earth and funny), Bonamassa states this is his best album yet. Hey, aren’t the latest releases always the “best yet”? While he kinda has to say that and I’m still a novice when it comes to Joe, he may be right. This is a very good collection of original material and some choice covers. I’d love for his next album to feature and even higher percentage of original numbers with maybe just one or two covers thrown in.
Blues rockers will really enjoy this one and it makes me wanna pick up Joe’s earlier albums.
Highlights: “Slow Train”, “Dust Bowl”, “The Meaning of the Blues”, “Black Lung Heartache”, “No Love On The Street”