Black Coffee is the third cover album recorded by American singer Beth Hart and blues rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa, released on January 26, 2018 on J&R Adventures and Mascot Label Group. It follows their 2013 cover album together titled Seesaw. (ny wikipedia)
Beth Hart first teamed up with guitarist Joe Bonamassa in 2011 and the partnership proved to be mutually beneficial. Hart gave the rock-edged Bonamassa some blues bona fides while the guitarist brought the vocalist to a wider audience. Plus, it was evident from their two studio albums and live set that the two had an easy chemistry: They shared a similar vernacular in Chicago blues and classic soul. The pair rely on that effortless interplay on Black Coffee, their third studio collaboration. Working with producer Kevin Shirley — a veteran of Black Crowes records who has been in the Bonamassa orbit since 2006 — the pair eschew straight traditionalism for a clean, colorful, retro vibe. Sometimes, the duo make choices that are perhaps a little too obvious — the covers of LaVern Baker’s “Saved” and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Sittin’ on Top of the World” are a bit on the nose — but they also know how to kick up the intensity on these chestnuts while avoiding sounding like they’re on steroids.
Still, the highlights of Black Coffee are the originals and lesser-known songs, as they reveal that there is plenty of common ground between Hart’s testifying and Bonamassa’s shredding. Interestingly, that common ground feels formal in a way their individual solo albums don’t — respectively, Hart will delve into the personal spins on roots music while Bonamassa will indulge in blues myths — but that’s the appeal: They’re working on keeping the flame burning, and Black Coffee may be their most effective testament in that effort to date. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)
Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa’s third studio album of mostly soul and blues sticks to the formula of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” and it serves them well.
Hart, a powerful singer also capable of nuance, is a good fit with Bonamassa, a guitar whiz with a wide range of sounds. They are bonded by their shared intensity, and the well-chosen repertoire, including many lesser-known tunes, gives them 10 opportunities to realize their potential.
Etta James songs are a staple of the duo and here they take on “Damn Your Eyes,” from 1989’s “Seven Year Itch,” one of James’ multiple “comeback” albums across the years. R&B diva Lavern Baker gets two nods, “Soul on Fire” and “Saved,” while “Lullaby of the Leaves,” a ballad with a scorching Bonamassa solo a la Gary Moore, dates back to the early 1930s.
Other songs include “Joy” from Lucinda Williams, Kansas Joe McCoy’s “Why Don’t You Do Right,” and the title track, Ike & Tina Turner via Steve Marriott.
Horn arrangements from Lee Thornburg, tasteful backing vocals and excellent keyboard parts from Reese Wynans, who used to play with Stevie Ray Vaughan, all help “Black Coffee” percolate into a tasty brew.
Album closer “Addicted” is a real gem, originally released in 2007 by Austria’s Waldeck. It has elements of a James Bond theme, shades of the tango and, unsuprisingly, a certain European vibe. Hart imbues it with passion, as do the Bonamassa and Wynans solos.
The world is full of little underappreciated treasures. If Hart & Bonamassa and producer Kevin Shirley can keep finding them, there’s a bright future in the grooves for more albums like this truly fine effort. (vy Pablo Gorondi)
Joe Bonamassa (guitar)
Paulie Cerra (saxophone)
Ron Dzuibla (saxophone)
Anton Fig (drums, percussion)
Beth Hart (vocals)
Rob McNelley (guitar)
Michael Rhodes (bass)
Lee Thornburg (trumpet, trombone)
Reese Wynans (keyboards)
Jade Macreae – Juanita Tippins – Mahalia Barnes
01. Give It Everything You Got (Winter/LaCroix) 4.37
02. Damn Your Eyes (Wyrick/Bogard) 4.33
03. Black Coffee (I.Turner/T.Turner) 4.16
04. Lullaby Of The Leaves (Petkere/Young) 5.43
05. Why Don’t You Do Right (McCoy) 4.35
06. Saved (Leiber/Stoller) 3.50
07. Sitting On Top Of The World (Vinson/Chatmon) 3.58
08. Joy (Williams) 4.23
09. Soul On Fire (Ertegun/Wexler) 5.02
10. Addicted (Engel/Waldeck) 3.40
11. Come Rain Or Come Shine (Arlen/Mercer) 4.35