A perfect pair...
Labels are a fickle mistress which is why the limitless talent of Joe Bonamassa has to drive the vast majority of critics and perhaps the odd label executive crazy at times. Simply put, this cat can play anything as is evidenced with the tunes on Seesaw. From the Ike & Tina Turner review to Melody Gardot, Bonamassa transcends typical limitations thrust upon artists by well meaning critics and label executives alike. Normally when an artist such as Bonamassa can make a stage burn much in the same way as an Eric Clapton his "wheelhouse" seems to be decided for him. Joe Bonamassa's musicality combined with the raw visceral vocals of perhaps the best unknown female vocalist on the planet in Beth Hart make this release something "special" and this may be the classic undersell.
Words like eclectic get a little played out when referring to the collection of tunes here. What we have is great music performed by artists at the top of their game without having their work sanitized for your protection by a producer that struggles to see past the glass in the studio. I have heard some say the blues is dead, I don't think so. Joe Bonamassa is far more than a blues guitarist looking for a quick pay day. The incredibly sophisticated use of harmonics no matter the genre have the Bonamassa sound taking on a life of its own. Some guitarist sound stiff and noticeably uncomfortable when venturing out side of the confines of their musical comfort zone yet Bonamassa seems to relish the challenge.
Beth Hart is a spitfire vocalist molded from that Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raitt school of rock and blues colliding as one. The vocal on "Nutbush City Limits" is simply stupid good. Hart is far from a one trick pony as she dials back the intensity to go a little more cerebral and high light her incredible range with the Melody Gardot tune "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" which translates perfectly to a blues number where Bonamassa shines. "Can't Let Go" is a shuffle on steroids with a relentless back beat and an infectious chemistry between all the participants. The stars were in perfect alignment for this recording.
Beth Hart has the all to rare ability to tug at a heart string while setting your hair on fire at the same time. Joe Bonamassa is the modern day Roy Buchannan (google the PBS Special on the worlds greatest unknown guitarist) who could move from Mozart to Muddy Waters in a set list and never miss a step. The word virtuoso while applicable is a bit tired. If you have never heard the amazing talent of Bonamassa and don't buy into the premise of a higher power, trust me...you will! This record is so good it is all most ridiculous...
Memphis soul meets Muscle Shoals with additional tunes from and associated with Donnie Hathaway, Lucinda Williams and Etta James.
My advise to you? Buy all the Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa you can afford.
Memphis soul, Chicago blues and a Texas shuffle sprinkled with funk, flair and finesse.
Even the most hypercritical of critics could find nothing wrong here!
Tracks: Them There Eyes; Close To My Fire; Nutbush City Limits; I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know; Can't Let Go; If I Tell You I Love You; Rhymes; A Sunday Kind Of Love; See Saw Strange Fruit.
Personnel: Beth Hart: vocals; Joe Bonamassa: guitar and vocals; Anton Fig; drums and percussion; Carmine Rojas: bass; Blondie Chaplin: rhythm guitar, backing vocals and percussion; Arian Schierbaum: organ and piano; Lee Thornburg: trumpets and trombones; Ron Dziubia: saxes; Lenny Castro: percussion ( "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know"); Michael Rhodes: bass ( "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know"); Doug Henthorn: backing vocals (Can't Let Go); Jeff Bova: string arrangements; Lee Thornburg: brass arrangements.