Four years have passed since Grammy nominated and number one Billboard Blues album 'Seesaw' was released by singer-songwriter and blues-rock powerhouse Beth Hart and guitar hero Joe Bonamassa. Since then, they have both been workin hard in the studio and live with solo output.
Now however they have reunited for another collection of soul gems under the album title of 'Black Coffee' which will be released via the Mascot Label on 26th January 2018.
With producer extraordinaire Kevin Shirley back at the helm, the result digs deep into the soul catalogue where they honour and re-imagine songs from Edgar Winter, Etta, James, Ike & Tina Turner/Steve Marriot, Ella Fitzgerald, Lil’ Green, LaVern Baker, Howlin’ Wolf, Lucinda Williams and Waldeck.
Recorded in 5 days at Studio at the Palms, Las Vegas in August 2016 they have once again recalled some familiar names in Anton Fig (Drums/Percussion), Ron Dziubla (Saxophone), Lee Thornburg (Horn Arrangements/Trumpet/Trombone) and welcomed in Reese Wynans (Keyboards), Michael Rhodes (Bass), Rob McNelley (Rhythm Guitar), Paulie Cerra (Saxophone), Mahalia Barnes (Backing Vocals), Jade Macrae (Backing Vocals) and Juanita Tippins (Backing vocals).
Talking about the sessions behind Black Coffee, Seesaw, 2011’s Don’t Explain and 2014’s Live in Amsterdam, Shirley gives some insight of what they are looking to achieve; “We’re trying not to dig into a playbook that’s been done many times, which is the old soul classics. We try and find a different spin on it; originally, it was about trying to find some songs that people didn’t know at all and bring them back to people’s attention.”
One such song was Give It Everything You Got, taken from 1971’s Edgar Winter’s White Trash album. With its hard rock meets Stax infused sound, the band delivers a formidable performance. “I don’t think that’s a song a lot of people know; it’s an old soul classic, but it’s not really one you might expect,” says Shirley
“One of the things Jeff Beck had said to me once that I thought was so wonderful,” explains Hart, was “as soon as you get comfortable, and if you stay there, you’re just gonna start dying as an artist. And I feel that one of the gifts that I’ve got with working with Joe is that I’m always uncomfortable- in a good way. “
Damn Your Eyes is taken from the Etta James 1988 comeback record, Seven Year Itch. Kansas Joe McCoy’s jazz-blues Why Don’t You Do It Right? made its first impact on Lil Green’s 1941 version, before Peggy Lee covered it a year later. They harness prime Steve Marriot on his take of Ike & Tina Turner’s Black Coffee. The inspiration came from his live version on the BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test in 1973.
“It’s really predicated on the vocals,” Bonamassa explains. “We can’t cut these tunes without Beth singing and once she starts singing, it’s the glue that inspires us to get the extra 10% out of the playing. If we just cut them and sang later, the magic wouldn’t be there.”
“That’s something the two of us stopped doing many years ago,” agrees Hart. “There was all this layering, and then it’s time for you to sing. It’s like you’re not even making music any more. There’s nothing like being able to sit there live and see Joe, seeing the drums, seeing the bass, being able to see Kevin. I can feel the vibrations, it changes the whole thing.” “Kevin really gets that,” she continues. “It works the best. In the old days, that’s how they did it; bad ass singers and bad ass musicians would have a couple of hours to get a whole record done.”
1 Give It Everything You Got
2 Damn Your Eyes
3 Black Coffee
4 Lullaby Of The Leaves
5 Why Don't You Do Right
7 Sitting On Top Of The World
9 Soul On Fire
11 Baby I Love You (bonus track)