Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Beth Hart Joe Bonamassa Don't Explain JR 2011

Joe Bonamassa plays the blues. Beth Hart lives the blues. The perfect storm.
Brent Black /
The blues has seen better days and the irony in that statement is not lost. Not since Stevie Ray Vaughn made his way out of Austin has their been a pure blues artist that has come close to crashing that commercial glass ceiling and bring the blues back to respectability in the marketplace...Until now.
Both Bonamassa and Hart have critically acclaimed solo careers. They are good alone. They are better together. Joe Bonamassa fits nicely in that post Clapton future of the blues category. The Clapton influence is unmistakable while the execution is all Joe. The legendary KoKo Taylor was good, Beth Hart is better. Hart has the ability to pull a vocal from the souls of her feet while sidestepping the more expected riff on Janis Joplin. Raw, raucous and righteous are the three adjectives that come to mind with Beth. Don't Explain is a deep catalog and slightly eclectic mix of tunes with highlights including perhaps the only good Melody Gardot number that I have heard "Your Heart Is As Black As Night." The Tom Waits tune "Chocolate Jesus" is a whimsical riff on the cliche' while the Billie Holiday tune "Don't Explain" is reborn. Good melodies last forever, it is only the execution that occasionally finishes them off.
The interesting thing with Don't Explain would be the deceptively subtle transition from the more hard blues to a rough soul sound, roots music. There may be other performers out there with comparable chops as someone is always better but as individuals there is no matching the artistic integrity and heart from which they play. The blues isn't dead, it has just been resting.

Tracks: Sinner's Prayer; Chocolate Jesus; Your Heart Is As Black As Night; For My Friends; Don't Explain; I'd Rather Go Blind; Something's Got A Hold On Me; I'll Take Care Of You; Well, Well; Ain't No Way.