Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa
Mascot Label Group
Black Coffee marks the third collaborative cover album for Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart. The ten tracks showcase Hart’s distinctive, sultry vocals while Bonamassa’s brilliantly understated guitar work teases in the background with strategically placed searing solos. Reinterpreting compositions recorded by such iconic blues/soul singers as Etta James and LaVern Baker, these gems truly illustrate Hart’s versatility as one of the all-time greatest blues/soul singers of this generation.
The genres run the gamut, from Edgar Winter’s funkadelic, horn-laded “Give It Everything You Got” to Lucinda Williams’ “Joy” to the Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller classic, “Saved” to the (unexpected) Bernice Petkere/Joseph Young “Lullaby of the Leaves,” famously recorded by Ella Fitzgerald and done serious justice here by Hart. The title cut, Ike and Tina Turner’s “Black Coffee,” is a bit lackluster compared to the others, but the Turners’ original version as well as the Humble Pie cover also fall somewhat short. Hart absolutely slays the Etta James slow burner, “Damn Your Eyes,” written by Barbara Wyrick/Stephen Bogard. The Walter Vinson/Lonnie Chatmon-penned “Sitting on Top of the World,” which has been recorded by countless artists, gets fresh life in this bluesy, horn-infused, guitar-driven interpretation. The jazzy, bluesy Kansas Joe McCoy “Why Don’t You Do Right,” a Peggy Lee hit, also gets the sensuous Beth Hart treatment among these jewels.
The beauty of this collection lies in the spectrum of song choices, and there is no better duo who could tackle this material. There are many collaborations out there, but there are none that hold a candle to Bonamassa and Hart.