By Phillip Smith
Don’t Explain is what being a music junkie is all about. This is a collection of ten soulfully retro-fitted songs featuring covers from Ray Charles, Billy Holiday, Etta James and Aretha Franklin to name just a few. I listen to a lot of music each year, and find many treasures, even so, I have to say this collaboration from Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa surpasses most of those. I love the way Beth Hart sings with pure emotion while Bonamassa subtly backs her on guitar.
Sexy and sultry, Hart plays the part of fallen angel on the first couple of tracks, as she covers Ray Charles’ “Sinners Prayers” and Tom Waits’ “Chocolate Jesus”. Bonamassa brings a bit of spaghetti western guitar to the table on ‘Chocolate Jesus’, creating an ominous environment, contrasting Hart’s softly sung vocals and piano. I really like this one.
The Holy Grail song on this album is ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’, originally by Etta James. The performance is unmistakably phenomenal. With a string section in the background, Hart sings with believability and conviction. Bonamassa takes over the bridge and picks out the melody only the way Bonamassa could. Another Etta cover, “Something’s Got a Hold on Me”, is also a lot of fun. Although it’s got a gospel flavor to it, I doubt anyone would ever hear this one played in church.
Fans of Bonamassa will dig the Bill Wither’s cover of “For My Friends”. The riff is hard and fuzzy, and not hippie friendly, like the original. I have to give this album two thumbs up. One for Beth Hart, and one for Joe Bonamassa.