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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 3 December 2011
I purchased cd this week after listening to the last verse of 'Your Heart is as Black As Night' on Radio 2. I had to google the name of the song and the artist, as the DJ went on to talk about something else as it ended. I bought this on the back of these last few lines and did not know what I would get. To say I am blown away is an understatement. I dont normally listen to Blues but I have played this non stop since it arrived today! Brilliant. Her voice is amazing, and the guitar is exemplary. I would recommend it to anyone!!
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on 26 September 2011
I'll put my cards on the table. I generally give a wide berth to 'cover' albums made by artists who otherwise record their own songs for a living. At best, these releases do little more than remind you how good the original versions were, and at worst they seem like a cynical ploy to extract hard-earned cash from loyal fans.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and here's one of them.

If there's any justice to be found, this fine album should propel both Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart directly into the mainstream. Better than Alison Krauss and Robert Plant's much-lauded "Raising Sand" collaboration, this is spine-tingling stuff with Hart's gorgeous voice and Bonamassa's masterful guitar-playing truly a musical marriage made in heaven.

Far from slavishly copying the original arrangements, there's real imagination and innovation going on here. Following Plant & Krauss, and numerous others before them, there's the seemingly obligatory Tom Waits song - this time it's the irreverent "Chocolate Jesus", re-imagined in jaunty vaudeville style.

Delaney & Bonnie's "Well, Well" with Bonamassa duetting on vocals rips along furiously, with a down and dirty version of Bill Withers' "For My Friend" giving free rein to the duo's rockier sensibilities. More recent inspiration comes in the form of Melody Gardot's sultry "Your Heart Is As Black As Night".

A strikingly different and slowed-down version of Aretha Franklin's "Ain't No Way" is just one of a number of stirring performances to leave a lump in the throat, whilst church is ably represented by a truly soul-baring adaptation of Lowell Fulson's "Sinner's Prayer", recalling another memorable version recorded a few years back by B.B. King with the guesting Ray Charles.

But impressive as this all is, the top honours are reserved for the duo's interpretation of Brook Benton's "I'll Take Care of You" featuring a smoking Bonamassa guitar solo alongside an extraordinary vocal performance from Hart that runs the gamut of emotions all the way from unspeakably tender to tortured.

More, please.
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on 26 September 2011
Beth Hart is one of the most powerful female blues/rock singers to emerge since Janis Joplin and she recently recorded a new album in collaboration with guitar maestro Joe Bonamassa entitled 'Don't Explain'. After crossing paths out on tour and previously working together making 'No Love On The Street' for Bonamassa's recent `Dust Bowl' album, it soon became apparent to Bonamassa that his guitar would provide the perfect foil for Hart's vocals. Almost inevitably Don't Explain was recorded earlier this year at Village Recorders, West Los Angeles in California, drafting in Kevin "Caveman" Shirley to produce & mix an album full of soul covers interpreted as only Hart & Bonamassa could, giving new blood to classic songs!

'Don't Explain' showcases Beth Hart baring her heart and soul on vocals & Joe Bonamassa playing guitar as only he can, delivering classic songs from a golden bygone era that belonged to divas like Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Etta James coupled with more contemporary numbers worthy of inclusion. Backing band is the same Bonamassa successfully assembled for his album 'The Ballad of John Henry' featuring Anton Fig (drums & percussion), Blondie Chaplin (guitar) & Carmine Rojas (bass) with Arlan Scheirbaum joining them on keyboards.

'Don't Explain' immediately has Hart pleading for mercy, probably just as Ray Charles would have imagined when he first wrote 'Sinner's Prayer', and the thought invoking Tom Waits song 'Chocolate Jesus' is so sassy, it would not sound out of place sung in a Parisian nightclub! Next cue piano for a flawless rendition of Melody Gardot's sultry jazz ballad 'Your Heart Is As Black As Night' and add slow blues guitar to make it complete. The Bill Withers song 'For My Friend' is transformed into the ball breaking blues/rock anthem that perhaps it was always meant to be, and portrays just what an incredibly versatile voice Hart really has. The next two remarkable covers of 'Don't Explain', made famous by Billie Holiday and 'I'd Rather Go Blind' immortalized by Etta James, sum up exactly why this album was conceived in the first place. Another Etta song, 'Something's Got A Hold On Me' also gets a worthwhile makeover here followed by one of the most passionate and sincere versions of Brook Benton's 'I'll Take Care Of You' that you will ever hear. A superb remake of 'Well, Well' provides the one duet on this album with Joe & Beth taking over Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett's vocals. Somehow this recording wouldn't be complete without the soulful sound of Aretha Franklin, and that is accomplished on the final track with a rework of her fabulous 'Ain't No Way', that is given all the reverence it truly deserves!

'Don't Explain' is where sensational singer Beth Hart and gifted guitarist Joe Bonamassa world's collide to pay homage to some of the greatest artists and most beautiful music ever made... simply breathtaking!
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VINE VOICEon 16 August 2012
Two great musicians - Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa - coming together. Sometimes collaborations work, sometimes they don't, for a whole variety of reasons. There are the obvious partnerships that I've enjoyed (Eric Clapton and BB King is a great example), where I've wanted the music to carry one, and I've wondered what else did they record and what happened to the rehearsal tapes. There are others which are just self indulgent, ego massages for both parties, that I've listened to and discarded.
This one works, Hart's voice and vocal phrasing complemented by Bonamassa's stellar guitar playing, whether slide or not. The opening of the opening track should help you decide whether you are going to like this or not - a bluesy slide guitar opening up and introducing Hart's smokey vocals. Her vocal power continues throughout the album, with hints of Joplin to her phrasing and delivery.
It's a great album, and one that I'm really enjoying. I was fascinated to read someone here complain about the sound quality - there's nothing wrong on my copy, so I can only hope he's sorted it out to enjoy this stunning album.
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on 26 February 2016
Well, you might look a this and think, "Who needs another album of rhythm and blues and jazz standards?" You might also worry that collaborations between established artists don't always turn out well, and lead to second-rate output. However, this team really works: the combination of Joe Bonamassa's flawless guitar work and Beth Hart's searing vocals is awesome; I played this album more than anything else in 2015.

The quality of musicianship throughout is excellent, but if I had to pick highlights they'd be their soulful "Sinner's Prayer", deliciously cheeky "Chocolate Jesus", show-stopping "I'd Rather Go Blind", and powerful, pacey "Well, well". But it's all good.

I'd have enjoyed more of Joe Bonamassa joining in on vocals than he does, but I'm perfectly happy hearing him on guitar and Beth Hart singing! For more of the same, "See-saw" is also good, though for me this is the better album; "Live in Amsterdam" has a lot of energy, but draws heavily (of course) from the two studio albums for material. Of the three, "Don't Explain" is my favourite.
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on 29 November 2011
Great new album from the amazing Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart.
If you love the blues then this Is a great album for your collection. Joe Bonamassas guitar work is more restrained but more tasteful than his heavier work with Black Country Communion. If you like his album Dust Bowl then you will love this.
Beth Harts voice is beautiful and the pair compliment each other, they obviously enjoyed making this.
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on 28 December 2012
Fantastic pairing of two masters of their arts. Beth Harts gutsy ,bluesy voice and Joe Bonaamassas superlative guitar playing melt together to produce blues heaven. Works on every level. Love how gritty Beth can sound but also love it when she pulls back a bit and we see this on the track "ain't no way " as Joe's slide guitar shines alongside her voice. Fabulous.
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on 21 February 2014
I was recommended to Joe Bonamassa by a friend and this was the album I picked first to try him out. Yes his guitar playing is superlative, but for me Beth Hart's vocals are just sensational. Think of every one of your favourite female singers and Beth is the equal to all of them - her range, variety of styles and interpretations are without exception brilliant. There is not a bad, nor even a slightly iffy track on "Don't Explain" which is a tour de force by two stellar artists. Buy a copy, wait until you are in the house on your own, put on the CD, turn up the volume - LOUD - and have a great time.
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VINE VOICEon 30 September 2011
I knew that this was coming and had made a point of avoiding any airplay on the radio so that when I finally got to put this into the CD player, it would be completely fresh and unheard. So, ordering a little late, this little gem arrived yesterday and has had a dozen straight plays since and, the verdict - classy with a capital C. I know that JB is "playing around" a bit these days, but my goodness me, he only puts his name and, more importantly, his guitar, to material that fully deserves his tag. And, this is certainly right up there with the best!
I know that there has been comparison with the Plant/Krauss project from a couple of years back, but to these ears, this stands no comparison - the P/K project always being depressing (in a nice way!) but Don't Explain is uplifting particularly on tracks like Chocolate Jesus where the rasping vocals and sharp guitar gell so incredibly well together it's a delight to hear.
As for the rest of the tracks, these are all well worn blues standards and don't need me to tell you more of those, but what really makes this so remarkable is the arrangements, the quality and balance of the sound and the feeling that you are getting two gifted artists giving it their absolute all...to the point where I am almost thinking that this could well be my favourite album of 2011..and when you consider what has been released so far this year and, indeed, what is still on the horizon, that is no mean feat.
No matter what your preference in music - this is a MUST for your collection - BUY!
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on 27 May 2014
What can I say about Beth Hart, superb recording with Joe, his guitar is so crisp (I know its digitally enhanced) Beths voice is so powerful, I heard one of her songs on my local Radio Northampton, I called the DJ, he gave me name and details of this CD, blown away by her style....if you buy one of her recordings make it this one, excellent.
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