Don't Explain

Don't Explain

by Beth HartBeth Hart


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Fans of guitar master Joe Bonamassa will be delighted that 2011 was such a prolific year in his career. First came the fine, rootsy Dust Bowl, then 2, the second chapter in his Black Country Communion project's catalog. Don't Explain, a collection of soul, blues, and jazz-oriented covers in collaboration with vocal firebrand Beth Hart marks his third entry this year. The ten-song set of blues and soul is a logical extension of her vocal contribution to "No Love on the Street" from Dust Bowl. Opening is a thoroughly raucous contemporary blues reading of Ray Charles' "Sinner's Prayer," followed by a quirky version of Tom Waits' "Chocolate Jesus," and an unusual cover of contemporary jazz-pop singer/songwriter Melody Gardot's "You Heart Is as Black as Night." On this cut, a string orchestra adds a touch of perversity; it offers the impression of a femme fatale singing a Brecht-Weill number in a smoky cabaret in front of a moody string orchestra, buoyed by a brooding electric blues quintet. "For My Friends," a Bill Withers' tune, is a big, nasty, jagged blues number that keeps the funky groove intact. The title track, a number closely associated with Billie Holiday, falls flat. Hart tries too hard to employ Holiday's phrasing, the string orchestrations are overblown, and Bonamassa's crew is too reverent. This formula also mars the remake of Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way" that closes the set. Far better are readings of Etta James' signatories "I'd Rather Go Blind," and "Something's Got a Hold on Me." Hart's emotive, throaty delivery is perfectly suited to both songs, and she resists trying to ape James' phrasing. Since they follow one another directly, the musical difference between them also showcase's Hart's diverse abilities. The former is a soul burner, the latter a gospel blues. Bonamassa and band accent her every phrase with requisite rowdiness, sting, and grit. The pair's only vocal collaboration is a burning read of Delaney & Bonnie's "Well, Well." With Anton Fig's breaks and rim shots underscoring Arlan Scheirbaum's electric piano fills, Bonamassa's burning leads, the chunky, rhythmic foundation from guitarist Blondie Chaplin, and Carmine Rojas' bassline, Hart and the lead guitarist trade whip-smart call and response vocals with enough raw country-soul to bring the song to a new audience. While not a perfect recording, Don't Explain is a good one, whose strengths are numerous enough to warrant a second go round.

Product Details

Release Date: 09/27/2011
Label: J&R Adventures
UPC: 0804879313915
catalogNumber: 931391
Rank: 7603

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Beth Hart   Primary Artist,Piano,Vocals
Blondie Chaplin   Guitar
Joe Bonamassa   Guitar,Vocals
Anton Fig   Percussion,Drums
Carmine Rojas   Bass Guitar
Bovaland Symphonic Orchestra   Performing Ensemble
Arlan Scheirbaum   Keyboards

Technical Credits

Lowell Fulson   Composer
Lloyd Glenn   Composer
Etta James   Composer
Brook Benton   Composer
Tom Waits   Composer
Bill Withers   Composer
Delaney Bramlett   Composer
Carolyn Franklin   Composer
Billie Holiday   Composer
Jeff Bova   Orchestration
Kathleen Brennan   Composer
Arthur Herzog   Composer
Kevin Shirley   Producer
Beth Hart   Liner Notes
Laura Grover   Liner Notes
Pearl Woods   Composer
Roy Weisman   Executive Producer
Ghian Wright   Engineer
Ellington Jordan   Composer
Billy Foster   Composer
Jared Kvitka   Engineer
Vanessa Parr   Engineer
Melody Gardot   Composer
James McCullagh   Engineer
Leroy Kirland   Composer

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