By: Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa
There’s an old tale that musicians tell about how if you walk on down to the windswept crossroads, at the junction of Highways 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi right around the stroke of midnight the devil himself may come and tune your guitar or give you that voice you want – albeit for a price. I always wondered what would happen if two musicians showed up at those crossroads at the same time, what happens then. Well methinks they call the tune, ramble on and we get a CD filled with amazing cover songs re-created by the immense talents of Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa, titled Don’t Explain.
Joe Bonamassa plays his instrument in an almost unearthly style. His fingers dance over the strings creating sounds of depth as he wrings you dry with spirited emotional finesse. When Beth Hart joins in and sings, the sounds fuse, complement, harmonize and become one. Beth moans and wails, expressing the deepest sorrows of a condemned sinner but can grind with such grit about love finding her just as easily. These two performers artfully blend their styles and sound, giving us old songs breathed with a new airy light and a touch of the old time blues slink.
If Joe and Beth went to those windy cross roads I don’t think it was to make a pact with the devil but to sing and play and see what the winds would send their way. And, also perhaps methinks after listening to Don’t Explain… I think to show that old blues devil a new thing or two.
Sinner’s Prayer 4:28
Chocolate Jesus 2:40
Your Heart Is As Black As Night 5:01
For My Friend 4:12
Don’t Explain 4:35
I’d Rather Go Blind 8:07
Something’s Got A Hold On Me 6:05
I’ll Take Care Of You 5:13
Well, Well 3:42
Ain’t No Way 6:48
SONG BY SONG:
Sinner’s Prayer: This song is crazy wild and digs deep. “Lawd have mercy.” The beat thumps hard and the slink-slank of the guitar meshes with Beth’s vocals creating that gritty groove this song requires.
Chocolate Jesus: This took a few plays in the player before I started grooving with it. It’s bluesy gospel with an upswing tempo that I found, after a few plays, you starting humming and singing right along with it.
Your Heart is as Black as Night: Out of all the tracks on this CD this is my least favorite. Musically it has a slow, slinky feel to it and Joe kicks it out of the park on his solo. Beth’s voice on this is well done but it doesn’t have the same panache as the other songs.
For My Friend: Like the lyrics and Beth’s voice is edgy/spastic on this song. Musically it’s well done, unfortunately the song as a whole really doesn’t do a lot for me.
Don’t Explain: Beth’s voice is very sultry, very Etta James-like. I honestly would not have known this was Beth Hart – beautiful old time voice. Joe’s guitar weeps and winds its way in and out throughout the song. Beautiful and artfully done.
I’d Rather Go Blind: Another beautifully re-crafted song. Beth’s voice cracks, weeps and moans as she tells her story; Joe then retells the story with his guitar playing during the solo leading Beth back to finish it.
Something’s Got a Hold On Me: One of my favorites. I love how the deep soul digging opener segues into almost a gospel sound that’s been caught by the blues devil and shaken so hard that you feel compelled to shimmy and shake.
I’ll Take Care of You: Joe’s skills on the guitar really shine on this song. You feel the edge and pain of this song in every note that he sends flying through his fingertips – amazing playing.
Well, Well: I gotta say this one should be getting radio play on the stations. It has a phenomenal beat and a hook that just won’t quit. Everyone that I’ve played it for is tapping their foot and humming the song. Definitely a WOOT WOOT!!!
SIDE NOTE: The opener of this reminded me a bit of Robert Plant’s Takamba – not sure why.
Ain’t No Way: Ok, I’ll admit it, this song made me cry. Joe’s opening guitar playing leading into Beth’s soulful voice is beautiful. The lyrics are heart-wrenching and Beth weaves and wraps her voice around them making you bleed with her. If the voice wasn’t enough Joe’s guitar notes silhouette’s, harmonizes and shoulder’s Beth’s voice. The best friend listening and helping her carry the pain. Beth and Joe pour the emotion out in this song. Kleenex inducing. Woot Woot wah wah
SIDE NOTE: Opening has shades of In the Light by Led Zeppelin in it.