ALBUM REVIEW: Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa: Black Coffee

Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa: Black Coffee

Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa

Black Coffee.

Audio CD 



26 January, 2018.

RATING: *****

Okay. Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa’s first studio collaboration in four years Black Coffee is magnificent. Then again, would anyone really expect anything else?

Recorded in five days at Studio at the Palms, Las Vegas, what we have are ten soul, blues and jazz gems produced by Kevin Shirley that are familiar yet fresh and newly twisted; a collection guaranteed to have even the most hard-hearted of cynics melting.

The usual way in which these reviews are written is that the music gets put on, listened to a few times then finally written up whilst the album in question is playing in the background.

Not so this. It would be impossible. Not to give the brilliance of Hart’s vocals ones full attention would be bordering on the criminal for one thing. The opening Give It Everything You’ve Got and the mercurial power, grit and range she provides on the titular Black Coffee are spellbinding. A veritable aural treat.

Yet the notion that Hart is all about power is quickly dispelled with the chocolaty version of Ella Fitzgerald’s Lullabye of the Leaves which sees Bonamassa taking something of a backseat to Reece Wynan’s faultless keys, Anton Fig’s subtle percussion and Michael Rhode’s cool bass.

Yet when Bonamassa does introduce himself to the track, man, does he burn this thing down! A cool, laid back number no more, Hart, Bonamassa and Shirley have taken Fitzgerald’s work, souped it up to nth-degree and delivered to it a stamp of their own.

Coming up right behind is the flawless Why Don’t You Do Right and the fun-fest, gospel-infused RnB delight that is Saved.

The relentlessness of Wynan’s keyboards, Bonamassa’s guitar and Lee Thornburg’s deliciously understated horn arrangements on Sittin’ On Top of the World fuse Hart’s vocals into some kind of molten honey-soaked cocktail that shudders and shakes the heart like a defibulator in overdrive.

Joy is quite simply that: with distortion bending Bonamassa’s strings to new angles, while Fig remorselessly hammers out the beat like a man intent on trouncing a nail to death.

Soul On Fire, with Hart at the very, very top of her game, is a thing of sheer beauty. The desire and passion that she ekes out of each and every syllable, note, vowel and chord is enough to make the nerves tingle, the pulse race and a smile broaden still further across the face.

Closing out on the glorious Addicted, Black Coffee isn’t so much an album but more of a listening experience; a musical monolith that makes you glad to be alive so as to be able to listen to it over and over and over again.

Track List:

Give It Everything You Got

Damn Your Eyes

Black Coffee

Lullabye of the Leaves

Why Don’t You Do Right


Sittin’ On Top of the World


Soul On Fire



Joe Bonamassa will be touring the UK throughout March. Get Tickets HERE

Beth Hart will be touring the UK throughout April. Get Tickets HERE

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