When it comes to contemporary blues artists it doesn’t get much better than Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa.
Back in 2013, this dynamite duo released their much-celebrated sophomore collaboration Seesaw. This being an album which topped the Billboard blues charts whilst at the same time earning them a well deserved Grammy nomination.
Over the last four years, both Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa have been hard at work with their respective music careers with each of these in-demand artists writing, recording and touring relentlessly. They collectively kick-start the new year by regrouping their musical alliance. The end result being the release of their eagerly anticipated new studio album Black Coffee.
With producer Kevin Shirley at the helm, this star-studded lineup entered the studio in Las Vegas during the summer of 2016 and laid down their impressive new album in a matter of just five days.
Unlike their first two records which were very much a celebration of tried and tested soul classics with this album, Beth and Joe have turned their attention to unearthing hidden gems and deep cuts from some of their favourite soul artists and musical inspirations.
A rather funky, groove-heavy rendition of Edgar Winter’s “Give It Everything You’ve Got” opens the proceedings and really sets the scene for the rest of the record. The track features some blistering, wah infused fretwork from Bonamassa, along with a passionate vocal performance from Hart. The song is perfectly accentuated by a prominent horn section.
A sublime cover of “Damn Your Eyes” by Etta James really plays to the strengths of both artists to great effect. On the other hand, the pair’s devastating rock and soul extravaganza in the shape of “Black Coffee” is also one of the standout numbers on the album. The latter of which was originally recorded by Ike and Tina Turner before being further covered by the likes of Humble Pie and more recently California rockers Rival Sons.
Some of the slower songs on the record such as “Lullaby Of The Leaves” by Ella Fitzgerald and the swinging jazz-inflected number “Why Don’t You Do Right” are familiar territory for Hart and mirror quite closely the sound and musical direction which she has been pursuing with her most recent studio albums. In each case, the end result is nothing short of spectacular.
Likewise, Bonamassa truly shines with some stunning playing during a reimagining of the country blues classic “Sitting On Top Of The World”. Of course, throughout the album, there are guitar solos aplenty.
As the album progresses, it ebbs and flows, with almost every track pushing the sound and feel of the record in a different direction. In the latter stages, the pair draws upon their Gospel influences with the likes of their scorching, foot-stomping take on LaVern Baker’s “Saved” and their fuzz-fueled performance of Lucina William’s “Joy”.
Black Coffee is a perfect snapshot of two of the blues world’s leading artists at the top of their game coming together seamlessly and effortlessly whilst at the same time boldly challenging themselves to push their creative boundaries. This soulful blues dream team have put their own distinctive stamp on each of the ten phenomenal tracks on the album and the end result is simply astonishing.
Black Coffee by Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa will be released via Provogue (Europe) and J&R Adventures (US & Canada) on Friday 26th January.