Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa - Black Coffee

Provogue Records
Produced by Kevin Shirley

Of the many side-projects that Joe Bonamassa has been involved in throughout his career, his continuous work with Beth Hart could certainly be considered one of the most prevalent. Black Coffee marks four releases from the duo, and is once again helmed by long-term producer Kevin Shirley.

Frankly speaking, in order for Black Coffee to have any real staying power, it would need to offer something different from Hart, Bonamassa and Shirley's previous work together and for the most part, this album genuinely does. Despite the fact that it draws from a catalogue of tracks from artists such as Ike And Tina Turner, Ella Fitzgerald, and Lucinda Williams, it's arguably the biggest and most 'rock' sounding album the duo have released to date. While Hart's vocals are the centrepiece of the album, such as with every previous Hart & Bonmassa release, it's clear that she's been forced out of her comfort zone a little more on Black Coffee, which yields satisfying results on the likes of the jazz-tinged Why Don't You Do Right and Lullaby of The Leaves.

With that said, there's still some exceptional playing on display from both Bonamassa and the rest of the band, such as Joe's solo on Soul On Fire, and the slick instrumentation on the opening track Give It Everything You Got. In this environment Joe is forced into somewhat more of a backseat role, which he seems to oblige to happily. While there are indeed some ferocious licks, solos and fills dotted throughout the album, his playing ultimately seeks to serve Hart's performance.

In general, Black Coffee is a good release from Hart & Bonamassa; it's a slightly bolder and more adventurous album than its predecessors, and while it's certainly not a game-changer of any kind, it proves to be a satisfyingly cohesive and enjoyable release for what is essentially a side-project. Fans of Hart will likely enjoy the results of the vocalist being pushed into new territory, while Bonamassa fans that may have previously struggled with his work with Hart could possibly find that Black Coffee is more attuned to what they expect from the guitarist.

Tracklist: Give It Everything You Got / Damn Your Eyes / Black Coffee / Lullaby of The Leaves / Why Don't You Do Right / Saved / Sittin' On Top of The World / Joy / Soul On Fire / Addicted

Written by James Abel
More: 2018, Albums, Blues,

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